'Blogging Won't Make You Money,' Says The Man Who Made Lots Of Money By Blogging

from the yet-another-mainstream-media-attack-on-blogs dept

It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say technology journalist Dan Lyons has a Schizophrenic relationship with blogging. In 2005, he penned Forbes’ laughable cover story called “The Attack of the Blogs,” but a couple of years later, he was uncovered as the author of the hilarious Fake Steve Jobs blog. Alas, it seems his love-affair with the medium has faltered. In his most recent column for Newsweek, Lyons has a real surprise for everyone hoping to retire on their Google AdSense income: “while blogs can do many wonderful things, generating huge amounts of money isn’t one of them.” Taking a look at some recent blogging layoffs and his own paltry advertising income as the anonymous impersonator of Apple’s CEO, Lyons concludes that growing rich from blogging is a “fairy tale.”

What’s missing from Lyons’ piece, of course, is the great success he experienced as a direct result of blogging. Not only did he receive a big book deal using the same Fake Steve Jobs character he created for the blog, Lyons has been invited to speak and write widely on the topic. Further, it’s doubtful that his high-profile switch from Forbes to Newsweek was anything but augmented by his blogging success. While relying on traditional advertising may not be the most promising business plan – especially given today’s market – blogging can and does serve as an integral part of the success Lyons and many others seek.

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Comments on “'Blogging Won't Make You Money,' Says The Man Who Made Lots Of Money By Blogging”

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DS says:


He said ‘you’, not ‘I’, or ‘me’. Anyways, what’s better, someone who says good luck making money in a venture that few people make money in (blogging), or someone (Donald Trump) who goes around doing paid speeches saying how yes, you and everyone else can be a multi-millionaire in a venture that’s full of risk (real estate)?

TX CHL Instructor (profile) says:

Re: The other problem......

I haven’t had that problem myself; the march of politics provides me with more ideas than I could ever find time to write about. And the more I write, the easier it is to come up with more things to write about.

BTW, I don’t make anything at all directly from my own blog. I probably don’t have more than a few dozen readers, max, and I don’t even do any adsense or any other ads. But I did notice that when I added a blog (even without linking to it from my main site), my SERPs went up remarkably. I still don’t bother to link to it, mainly because I’m a bit curious about whether anybody can actually find it (and a few dozen actually have, even though I’m not sure how!).

Not sure which had the biggest effect, but between the improvement in my search engine ratings and the paranoia induced by the Empty Suit Politician from Chicago with the Blank Resume, my business has received an enormous boost.

http://www.chl-tx.com Thanks, BHO!

Joel Coehoorn says:


He’s right that bogging, _by itself_, isn’t likely to do much for you. Where blogging shines is in it’s capacity as a marketing tool. You use a blog to build interest in other goods and services, and then derive income from those items rather than the blog itself. If you’re not attributing some of that income to the blog, you’re making a mistake.

One other neat thing is that you, yourself, can be the promoted good or service.

simon says:

google ad money

well all nice and smooth from there, but for example i use Mozilla Firefox with No Script add on installed, googlesyndication.com and google-analytics.com are blocked by default, and i know lots of people who use same, so there is another good percent of Firefox users… so no ad revenue from this group either…

but going back to blogs , bad blogs sure don’t generate interest, and blogs only by themselves, generate too little to matter… but maybe to give a little bit a bonus for writing , except for the replies, comments etc.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: google ad money

Google aren’t the only advertising provider, and advertising is far from the only way to make money while blogging (though it is the easiest in terms of setup and maintenance). While there are some bloggers who do very nicely from blogging (albeit usually by running several at once), there are a great number more who use their blogs to generate traffic and interest for their main money-making sites or business. Judging from what Mike’s said in the past, you’re on one of them now.

Also, I’d be willing to bet hard cash that most people savvy enough to use Firefox+NoScript wouldn’t be clicking on ads to begin with, so the level of lost revenue is probably lower than you think.

Jim V. (user link) says:

Its not the blogging that makes money

I think the important point is that he still didn’t directly make money from his blog. His blog was a vehicle to help him make money doing other things. So still, he’s not going to retire on his blog. But the blog helps him to get other opportunities that he would not have had. It is an important difference. We should use our blogs as a marketing vehicle for other high value products and services, not as a money maker themselves.

SteveD says:

Career paths

Perhaps part of the issue here is the youth of blogging; there are few career paths or progressions mapped out for writers that use blogging as a starting point.

Perhaps its best to compare blogging to working as an intern at a newspaper. Neither is going to make you a wealthy person, but they both provide opportunities to further your career.

Shill Headline says:

I live in a world of facts. How about you?

Book deals are one offs, and now with the disappearance of the blog, the Book will surely be available at your corner dollar store, as success of the two are reliant on each other.

But what I don’t understand is that there are multiple stories mention that Lyons wouldn’t be able to replace his normal income with blogging, and this was overlooked in your story. Below are a few that touch on this:



Graham Jones - Internet Psychologist (user link) says:

Blogging does make money

Once again we find that even a well-known blogger fails to understand blogging. Blogging is a conversation with readers; nothing more, nothing less. Out of those conversations comes reputation, a position as an “expert”, public relations and branding. All of these make several bloggers serious money. True they may not derive any “off the page” income in terms of adverts, but they do make money as a direct result of their blogs – just like Dan Lyons has done.

Mark Adams (user link) says:

For every profitable blog, I'll show you a few thousand unprofitable blogs

Truth is, there are some very good blogs out there that don’t make nearly a dime. I found Google’s Adsense more intrusive than profitable, and given the labor one must put into a blog, there are quicker ways to make a buck. That said, blogging is an essential tool for the promotion of other enterprises, so I wouldn’t quickly drop blogging, unless it drove you crazy.

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