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Poor Bloggers Focus Too Much On Blog Posts

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of April 2010 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

Guest post by David Risley, of David Risley dot com.

What I’m about to share might be a little bit counter-intuitive for many, so I ask that you stick with me.

What if I were to tell you that blog posts really aren’t all that important?

OK, Mr. crazy man. Stop yanking my chain.

However, I’m quite serious and I’m saying this to you as a full-time, professional blogger who makes his living completely online.

The simple truth is this: Poor bloggers spend most of their time writing blog posts. PROBloggers spend most of their time on what actually matters – business.

Blogging Isn’t A Business

I’ve been quite direct about the fact that blogs are not businesses. I believe that so many bloggers get so hung up on their medium that they haven’t stepped back to look at the big picture. A blog is a promotional medium and a communications platform. And in order to really monetize a blog, you have to ask the question: To what end?

What is your real product? What is the thing that you can provide to others in exchange for some of their money?

See, what we do with blogs is nothing new. The platform is different, but it is essentially human communication and we’ve been doing that ever since the days men were writing on caves.

Then, people developed economies. Some people create things that others can use, and others buy it. Then, people learned how to use the art of writing to promote those products. Thus, people had the power to mobilize crowds of people into certain things. Economies got bigger. Media expanded the reach of promotions into TV, magazines, etc. The Internet then revolutionized the way we communicate. Now, any of us has the power to create and mobilize groups of people from the confines of our bedrooms.

All that being true, the rules haven’t changed. People still spend money on products that they need and want.

Want to Actually Make Money? Then, Answer This…

So, I ask you: What is your product, really?

Your product should be something which is valuable to your audience which they will be willing to fork over a little money for. When you have that, your blog is a promotional medium for an actual business.

Most bloggers today operate in a dream world of made-up business rules. They try to make money with their blogs when they have nothing to sell. They’ll try to monetize the eyeballs only by littering the blog up with banner ads to sell other people’s stuff. It doesn’t take long for most bloggers to realize what a freaking difficult way to monetize a blog that is!

So many bloggers seem to think of their blog as a newspaper. Newspapers are monetized by ads. Guess what? Newspapers are disappearing left and right last time I checked. The model is limited and broken. So, why try to perpetuate it in a completely different medium?

No, the REAL answer to full-time incomes from blogs is to answer that question: What is my product? And if you don’t have one, you need to create one.

In other words, build a real business, then slap a blog on top of it. :) Treat the blog, not as a newspaper, but as a promotional vehicle for an actual business. This isn’t to say all you do is pimp your products. On the contrary, you provide really great content in order to build the relationship up with your reader. However, you do it with the aim of converting into a sale of your own product.

So, Blog Posts Aren’t That Important?

Now, let’s come fill circle back to my original point. Blog posts aren’t really all that important?

Here’s my point: Blog posts are not your product. They won’t get you paid. So, spending all of your blogging time writing more posts isn’t getting you anywhere – IF you want to turn your blog into a revenue producer.

My suggestion is to regroup. Take whatever time you have available for your blog and divide it up. Spend part of the time thinking ahead by producing assets that will help you grow your business. Products to sell, content to use to build your email list, etc. Schedule this into your routine. Then, use the remaining time to write blog posts.

If you have a readership and still aren’t making much more than a few bucks per month from your blog, then something is wrong. And the answer is most likely to be found in the question, “What’s your product?”

David Risley is a professional blogger, which basically means he sits and types a lot and manages to earn a living at it. His blog is the Confessions Of a Six Figure Blogger, and you can follow his escapades on Twitter.

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. But I should add that the post does inspire me to make what I do (service, not a product) a little more prominent on my blog, because I (like most people) am not blogging for my health. :)

  2. Great post David. I’m a newbie to blogging. However, I have been doing much “homework”, researching and reading much of what a handful of professional bloggers write. I read Darren, Yaro Stark, Chris Garrett, Seth Godin and Rand Fishkin and now I’m about to add David Risley. Already, I have seen the main reason only a few bloggers hit “pay dirt”. To blog for money requires a certain mind set, a certain paradigm shift. One either has it or need to cultivate it. I suspect David expected most of the reactions he got via comments. Possibly, that was one of his reasons for this post for he says his post maybe rejected by “many”. You are right.

    David’s thesis: “probloggers spend MOST of their time doing income earning stuff.” He never said do not post nor do not post frequently. His point is about FOCUS. David writes, “Take whatever time you have available for your blog and divide it up.”

    David also dispels a prominet myth, “blogs are not businesses”. If one can see the forest through the trees it would not be too hard to perceive David’s point. He calls this the “big picture”. David says “A blog is a promotional medium and a communications platform.” Yaro Starak says the same thing. Chist affirms this. I am positive Darren says the same think too. He may not use the same words but read between the lines.

    If you doubt this look at the right side bar of “Problogger”.

    Finally, David is saying and he is not saying blog post is unimportant, all in one breath. Blog post is important to all blogs because it is the medium of communication. It is important to the point of attracting the traffic with your “flag ship” content,if one wants to monetize a blog. But the post is not your product. That is why David asks, “…What is your product really?”.

    On the other hand, blog post is unimportant if your blog is monetized correctly. This is in context of the amount of time one spends writing posts. This is not an end in itself because a blog is not a blog without posts. Hence, David advises “schedule this (monetizing activities) into your routine”. But what if a blogger becomes ill or take a vacation? No posts. No money? So David rightly says “PROBloggers spend MOST of their time on what actually matters – business.” One day I will be a problogger and I will remember this post.


  3. I think I get the point about the “product” .

    Could you possibly mean for example opening up a Forum or Message Board on a blog / site and charging members a fee to access it ?
    I have noticed this is becoming popular with a lot of my favorite blogs lately and given your post I can now see why – surely it’s because it is there “own product” rather than someone elses.
    Am I right ?

  4. I experienced that content surely can bring money to your pocket but You are right to tell we should not stop in that. We should go further to offer our service or product after that.

  5. I got your points and now I realized that my perception of ‘more blog posts means more revenue’ is wrong.

    Thanks for your opinion. Now I try to look into more profitable way in blogging. Again, thanks =)

  6. Great post David. The commenter links from this post has produced numerous bookmarks…thanks again.

  7. I see I’m not the only one a little confused by this post. My writing is my product and I’m paid for doing it. I don’t sell actual products on my blog, though I do sell the content by way of publishing on Kindle (and making good money there I might add). I also have begun making ad spots available and people are buying them, both personal bloggers and corporate entities.

    I guess my product is entertainment (I’m a humor blogger). Do I sell it? You bet.

  8. I like a three tiered concept that I learned from Brian Clark (copyblogger) and Darren in regards to blogging for $$$.

    Find a niche that you’re actually interested in and passionate about.
    Write a bunch of “knock it out of the park” content
    Ask other people to contribute to the site
    Listen to your tribe
    Ask questions
    Take polls
    Find out their deep needs, problems
    And then create fantastic products that help your tribe really succeed in life.

  9. This is quite a spirited discussion going on here, and the passion shines through. If I remember correctly, in one of Darren’s post, he said that he started to succeed at blogging after he started to view it as a business, am I mistaken? It seem to me that all the bloggers who are making a lot of money are actually selling something, whether it be a product or service.

    This is something that I have thought about for my blog The Invisible Mentor. Like most people, I have thought about how to monetize my blog, I spend time creating great content because I do not do fluff and I want people to be able to sink their teeth into what I am offering, but I ask the question, how will I make money from this? The answer I came up with is to have products to sell and at some point perhaps turn my blog into a membership site, where I have a lot of great content for free, but also have some premium content that’s paid, very much like the model that http://mediabistro.com uses.

    I have a lot of original content because I interview people. I have also been spending time looking at ways to enhance the user experience to my readers, and I have figured out a few ways to add more value. For those interested, David Meerman Scott has a great book called “Cashing In With Content.”

    I do think that you have to spend time creating great blog posts (content) and also treat blogging as a business, if that’s what you want. Some people are blogging for pleasure, or to get their message out there.

    David, thank you for your blog post because it has started a really good discussion that we can all benefit from.

    Avil Beckford

  10. Wow! Every now and then a post like this comes along that really makes me stop and think, re-evaluate, and think some more. Quite a lot of food for thought…even from the resulting comments! Nicely done!

    I blog for pleasure, but I also spend 12-14 hours a day doing it…perhaps figuring in a bit of compensation wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

  11. really nice post David and helpful for blogger like me …
    i do not concentrate on Revenue just left adsense for it.

  12. I love this post, it was a reminder that I need to get my butt in gear and figure out what it is I am trying to sell, what product is going to be “me” and what product do I want to sell … Off to spend today brainstorming .. thank you for this post!

  13. Nice post. I think the people that don’t agree just aren’t understanding.

    People saying that readers come because they like the content and the writer’s opinions..but perhaps the writer’s opinion IS their ‘product?’

    Maybe some people can have a successful money making blog while talking about nothing, but for the most part don’t readers visit blogs for specific topics?

    For example, a blog amount money should talk about..money. I suppose the ‘product’ they are selling is information about money/ making money / investing money / their opinions about money and so on. The blog is just the way to get it out there.

    But the blog post itself is not the most important. It’s what you’re ‘selling’ in your post that is important. But it doesn’t have to be a blog post. You can plaster the information on billboards or send it through snail mail if you want. The blog is just your tool of choice.

    That’s the way I understood it anyway.

  14. This post definitely has me thinking, though I’m not quite sure to what end yet, LOL. I have two blogs, one I started last year on a whim with no real idea about monetization, I just felt like writing. The readership on it is growing, as are my visitors, but I truly can’t find any “product” that I can sell with it. I provide positive reviews on products, websites, tv shows, books, movies, music, concerts, amusement parks, basically anything. I did it because I like to talk about the things that I like (rather than complain about the things I don’t), but no matter how hard I think abou it, I don’t see a “product” that can come from it.

    My affiliate ads (including Adsense) are just now starting to generate some income after being up for a couple months and I’ve also started doing some paid reviews here and there (I turn down any job if I have nothing good to say since my purpose is to provide nothing but positive reviews). Truthfully I don’t see any other options for the type of blog that I have.

    So while I can’t say that I “disagree” with you, I’m not sure that it applies to my blog. I do however have another blog that I just started that IS more geared towards providing a product and I will definitely keep this post in mind as I develop it. :o)

  15. Yes you are right, As bloggers always listen from other blogger that post on your blog frequently, so they do so. They just want to increase the posting frequency of their blog and do not think if their article will be helpful for reader or not. Well It is not my strategy.

  16. I’m with Glen. Yes FOR MOST to make serious money you need to have a product to sell. But to sell a product you need to have traffic and readership, that is why your content is so important. It is your biggest leverage point. Personally I focus on quality over quantity. Also I think most bloggers will understand or will quickly figure out that blogging is not a get rich quick scheme, it takes 1-2 yrs typically to even start making a decent income, and income from banner ads is not going to happen. Before anyone starts a blog you just need to determine what the goal of your site is.

  17. This post did seem to go against a lot of what I have been reading and studying as of late. I obviously see a lot of blogs pushing a product. Personally I have not followed any blogs that push products, but that does not make me right and them wrong. I do look for blogs that give great information or are enjoyable to read.
    It may take longer to make good money from just writing good posts but I do believe it is possible.
    Thanks for the lively discussion.

  18. David,

    I think you are partly correct. I do think bloggers need to think about selling a product and the blog can attract people to learning about your product. I do not see it as black and white as you do. I think links to affiliates to purchase books written by others, adsense adds, and selling products. I think it is all of that. Perhaps approaching this subject in a more gentle fashion would be best. Many people start first with a blog rather than a product. The product can come later after building up a small audience. Your approach can be discouraging to beginning bloggers. We certainly don’t need anymore discouragement. So reconsider repackaging your important message in a more positive way so you do not end up ticking people off and so discouraging people that they give up, don’t sign up for your blog and even stop subscribing to ProBlogger. I think you could use a little diplomacy and a more balanced view of it all. It also depends upon one’s niche and how much time one has to devote to the blog. Not everyone is out to make tons of money and you have cast a negative pall over those who do not see the world as you do. Despite your approach, I do agree with you in general…just take it a little easy.


  19. I personally try to allot only a specific number of hours for creating posts. The rest of my time I devote to promoting them in social networks and email groups.

  20. David,

    It seems you stepped on a few toes with your viewpoint, but that’s a good thing.

    I spent almost two years writing a book part time. Then, before I was finished with the book, I decided to start a blog as a marketing tool for the book.

    Seven months later I had 150 posts, but still hadn’t finished the book….then it hit me…the blog had taken over my time, so my primary product sat languishing as I looked for motivation to do the next blog post.

    Two months ago, I decided to put the blog on the back burner (posting every other day instead of everyday) and put some serious time into finishing the book, which is now complete and available for purchase on the blog, which was my original intention in the first place.

    But it took me almost a year to figure out where to place my focus, which is a lot of potential book sales I missed out on…

    In any case, it is obvious to me that all of you “probloggers” are selling your own products….then you ‘affiliate’ for additional income streams…its no-brainer really…

    Many bloggers write from a source of passion, so to suggest they are poor because they don’t promote their own product is bound to ruffle some feathers…which was your intention I’m sure….

    But for those of us wanting to make a living from their blog, your point is brilliant!

    Write On!

  21. Thanks.
    A very timely reminder.
    I was concentrating on building a readership and time had got away from me.

  22. This is some great info. I would say if you are targeting your audience by pinpointing them and placing the ad’s on your site. Then it could become profitable. However just like you said look at the newspapers they are going to the wayside. Yes we need to market a product however we need to keep honest while doing so or it will alienate our readers and hence stop traffic to our sites.

  23. Last year it was “blog every day.”

    This year, not so much.

    The truth, maybe somewhere in between.

    I’m continuing my daily articles. I want to continue build intellectual capital, and I want to continue to build long term search results. Readers come, readers go according to my social mojo (ebbs and flows). Meanwhile, I’m building out the business behind the scenes.

  24. Good post, mkaes a lot of sense and actaully mirrors where I am at right now as a newbie blogger- figuring out what my goals actaully are.

  25. Very real post. It is so true like it or not. People who know the truth in this and those who don’t…this is what seperates the business leaders from the pack. They see an opportunity and they think beyond what the average person sees- they see ways to grow and monitize. I suppose some people may think it is sneaky but it is just a fact of life that that is what business is all about. Whether you agree or not, it is happening…

  26. And with one post you have crushed the dreams of thousands of ProBlogger readers…

    Nice post. You are dead on with this message. Blogging won’t make you money. It will just lead people into the opportunity to purchase your product. Nothing more.

  27. “Blogging won’t make you money” I disagree with that statement as I know many bloggers who have become very wealthy without leading people to purchase a product and by simply “blogging”.

    And as a few people said before me it’s not really what we have been reading so far , so who is right ?

  28. David,

    I appreciate the reminder that blogging is a business and if you’re not making money, you’re not really in business. It’s message you’ve repeated on different occasions.

    I have to say, however, that I agree with some of the other comments; there are holes in your thesis. You can’t turn out crap and be credible as a blogger. By the same token, I agree that you can spend too much time on content creation and too little time on monetization. So, the message I took away from your post: Balance content creation with creating money making opportunities for yourself.

  29. This is exactly the order in which I started my online business and blog. I had good advisers when I first created my web site. My intent with the site was to sell the skin care products that over my career I had found to be the absolute best for my patients skin health.

    Once my site was up, my advisers said I needed to blog or else no one will find my site. As a full time practicing dermatologist who runs a medical office also, I didn’t think I had time to add blogging and then social media to my life. Well, I have and the big surprise to me is that it’s really fun. This means it doesn’t feel like work. Wow!

    I use my content to teach about skin conditions and treatments that can be done without prescriptions. It’s great information for my patients to reference between posts. It also serves as promotional material to non-patients surfing for dermatology information and product advice.

    It’s a coincidence that today’s post is a retrospective on my first 6 months as a physician blogger.

    Cynthia Bailey MD

  30. Everyone has a niche and visiting the website of the person who wrote the post it looks like yet another website promoting ebooks to teach you how to make money.

    Yes, newspapers are in trouble but evolving and one of the reasons is that “real” bloggers, i.e. trained journalists who can scoop or offer a better or different angle on news stories are eating away at the news “papers”.

    The continuing development of tablets will see more people hungry for real information such as hard news, travel information, updates and advisories etc. look for quality news blogs – and continue to support display and PPC advertising. The advertising revenue models are not going away any time soon, just being refined.

  31. My view – take the best bits you need and mix it in with the views of other experts and find your own way.

  32. I can relate to Cynthia M.D.

    I too was told to blog to get website exposure. But I’ve found that blogging is fun and can be similar to teaching. Teaching health and wellness tips is a passion and I can give a lot of it away online with the notion that I am their wellness expert.

    Dr. A

  33. i think bloggers should concentrate to give unique+quality content to users rather than they focus on business when have a blog with one or two posts

  34. Exactly. Need I really say more?

    My blog is meant to help drive traffic to our site and hopefully pull in some hosting customers.

    I’ve noticed something. It usually only pulls them in when I actually use the blog to push our services, rather than the posts which talk about other things… like how to install Google Analytics or something.

    You need a cornerstone product or service (i.e. something to offer).

  35. I think this post hits true to home. Some persons spend lots of time blogging in the hopes of generating the traffic to earn thousand dollar incomes from affiliate links. If you are one of those success stories well that great.

    But it’s when that model isn’t working then you’ve got to rethink your strategy. Look at the some of the social media pros: Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin they all provide/promote their own product or service (book, seminars, site) and therefore have additional income streams…seems obvious then doesn’t it?

  36. Great Post! I have always used my blog as a marketing tool for my business, and have never blogged for the sake of blogging, or for the sole purpose of selling adspace.

    I’ve never considered myself a “Pro Blogger”. Rather, I’m a small business owner who uses a blog to promote a business, share content, and help prospects plan their wedding and decide on a venue and vendors.

    But maybe I am a “Pro Blogger” after all! Thanks for the insight.

  37. Striking my heart deeply, what is my product? Nothing, but by now i can start to think about it. Thanks Darren.

  38. This is absolutely true. Many of us focus on helping others instead of on making money because that is our priority. Eventually we realize that if we made some money we could help more people and then we finally learn to monetize properly.

    One issue though is that there are so many who teach “WHAT” we should do but never “HOW” to actually do it. I for one have known I should have a list since the mid-1990s but still have not developed the technical skills required to make that happen.

    I am only just now doing that and I WILL share the step-by-step how-to with my readers because I don’t want them to wait a decade before they do what should be the very first step to monetization: building a list.

    It is much easier now so I will focus on how to use FeedBlitz as a more powerful, Social Media ready alternative to AWeber. With the assistance of some who are experts on using AWeber I will compare them too so that more will know which to use and whether it is worth switching or using both.

  39. Ann Skinner says: 04/24/2010 at 8:45 am

    As a student completing a business degree at university, I’m very interested in the process of blogging related to buinesses. Though I don’t have personal business experience, I have worked for many years in organisations, and appreciate your opinions regarding businesses not forgetting the main focus – their product – and the use of blogs to promote this and the business, rather than as mere information sources.

    From a knowledge management perspective, I wouldn’t totally discount those who have pursued blogging as a business in itself, as it is also their right to choose the vehicle which suits them.

    Hope this i perceived in a positive light:), as it was meant to be.

  40. Very informative, alot of people think just because a blog is put up they will monetize from it but thats simply not true..great info will save.

  41. I have an auto repair shop. And am just thinking about creating a business blog. The goal of the blog would be to help my main site with page rank and provide information for my customers and potential customers.

    But the goal of the blog is to get them to pick up the phone and call me…or bring their car into the shop.

    I think having a clearly defined goal is the place to start. And then working at it from there.

    So I agree with you…your goal isn’t writing posts. It’s getting your client to get involved w/ your product…whatever that is.

  42. I work from home and it is always a struggle to find a balance between my family and work. I’ve been apprehensive about starting a blog because I don’t want it to take too much time. But I love the idea of having a purpose for the blog…and focusing on that. That helps a lot.

  43. Gotta say I find this article a little counter-intuitive. The author clearly makes his money writing a blog. And for sure, it’s the product underneath the blog that makes the money: but it’s fundamentally the system of blogging itself, that is paying the rent.

    But I totally agree that blogging is and should be a layer on top of a successful business that both supports it and informs its buying community of developments and opportunities offered by the business itself.

    Interesting post.

  44. I absolutely agree with this, today’s blogs are becoming a middle man to sell our own products. It’s more like a soft marketing method, we provide valuable information for free from our post, then we introduce more advance features from our products.

    Great post :)

  45. Totally agree. If you’re in this to make money, blogging is simply a way to publicize your money-making goods or services. Perhaps that’s why I find that the blogs for so many gifted communicators are not actually for their writing, although they will frequently offer a sample of it. Mainly they are selling some kind of branded instruction on how to become a good writer/publicist/reporter/copywriter and so on. Sure, a few ancillary bucks for page views may come their way. But that’s not at all the main deal.

    And it’s all very illuminating to those of us trying to make money as writers. As a journalist I find the only way to make decent money is to sell into print publications. Of course the notion of doing making money by writing online is tempting. But there does not appear to be a business model to support that.

    Proof: I make some thousands of dollars a month writing for one print pub which also has an online edition. Sometimes a good article idea will get squeezed out of the print version, so I recently asked my editor if I could sell it to the online for, say, half or even a third. Better than nothing, right?

    You shoulda heard him scoff: “the online people don’t pay jack!” He explained that without the scarcity value of print, there’s no value at all placed on the articles in the online edition. Which is why they’re all reprints of stuff that has appeared elsewhere, wire copy or, at best, top-of-the-head and often snarky musings on this or that with no effort toward sourcing, research, credibility or even good writing.

    I’m somewhat newish to this, so please forgive me if I’ve got this wrong. And please do tell me what I’m missing about online journalism being a way to make a living if you’re not already a celebrity with a recognizable brand from, say, the Times or Vanity Fair. I’d love to know! Meanwhile, I’m doing pretty well selling to dinosaur print for $1.50-$2/word and I’m not about to start giving it away.

  46. I think this post hits the nail on the head. The only thing I do think it overlooks is the great seo training one can get when initially creating adsense blogs and websites. I know I would have never started if it weren’t from the encouragement of adsense sites I created.

  47. I’m glad that I’m reading up on this debate now before I get too far in. Right now I feel like I’m writing a blog for fun, while also trying to make a little side money. It seems like having a niche might be the way to go, but I can’t decide!

  48. I disagree entirely…

    1. A blog is branded as a business because it’s a prefered marketing tool. People would rather think of themselves as business owners than bloggers. One sounds alot more professional than the other. Business gives the writer the feeling of importance.

    2. Blog Post are important: They establish a “Medium or communication platform.” If you can’t offer interesting blog post to readers then you’ll never be able to sell an Ebook.

  49. You make some good points, if you’re a business trying to use a blog as a promotional tool, but this isn’t the only point of a blog.

    I think you undervalue the importance of good posts. After all, if you spend all your time trying to sell products and put half assed post up, no one is going to be interested enough to stick around.

    Actually, I’m surprised you even have written a book on this, because you don’t even mention web traffic. We traffic is a commodity, and if you have a lot of web traffic you can make money.

    I can think of countless blogs whose content alone generated success for the blogger. What comes to mind right now is thingswhitepeoplelike. This guy just started posting funny content that resonated with an audience, got tons of web traffic, and now he’s got a book deal and a url that half the world knows about and is linked to.

    Blogging can be whatever you want to be, but like anything, you have to know who you’re trying to reach and be consistent. I see too many bloggers just have one blog and just random posts.

  50. I liked your post, David, however I would have to disagree.

    Personally, the success of my blog (although I’ve only been blogging for 4 months or so), has to do with content.

    Why? Because I’m focusing on solving people’s problems.

    Not only that but the biggest reason why I disagree with you is because your method won’t serve the masses.

    You have got to serve others, if you want to be a success. Not focus on making money first and foremost. Sure, it needs to be a consideration, but it all needs to be balanced out.

    Thanks though, I will use this information. If only as a side-note to what I already do. I’ll remember this article!

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