Say That Again

by Kevin Donovan

Filed Under:
blogging, dan lyons, revenue

'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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    DS, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 6:47am


    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)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Haywood, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    The other problem......

    The other problem is; it is a road to burnout for many. There are the few who can put out a constant stream of relevant readable content, most writers cannot, at least not indefinitely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 7:00am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    simon, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    google ad money

    well all nice and smooth from there, but for example i use Mozilla Firefox with No Script add on installed, and 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Jim V., Feb 9th, 2009 @ 7:15am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    SteveD, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    nasch, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:05am


    Schizophrenia is not the same thing as dissociative identity disorder, aka multiple personality disorder. In case that's what you were going for. But maybe you were saying this guy has "abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality", which would be schizophrenic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Shill Headline, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:22am

    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:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    cram, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    The blog has made its author tons of money.

    And though I don't have the evidence to prove it, I think Nick Carr's blog helped drive sales of the Big Switch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:58am

    Re: Schizophrenia

    Thank you, the misuse of this word is a pet peeve of mine as well. My brother is a schizophrenic, and he is very consistent in his thoughts ;).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Home Based Business Work, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    maybe it works for somebody, it's not a rule

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Feb 9th, 2009 @ 11:21am

    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.
    -- Thanks, BHO!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Graham Jones - Internet Psychologist, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 9:55pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Mark Adams, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 11:27pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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