Blogging really is a get-rich-quick scheme

Pyramids: Is blogging a pyramid scheme?

Blogging is still a get-rich-quick scheme, assuming the riches you’re talking about aren’t money. Here are some of the things you might get out of blogging.

When I started to toy with the idea of blogging, I wandered around the blogosphere to see what kind of things people blogged about. I quickly reached the conclusion that there are two main topics: how to blog and how to make (ridiculous amounts of) money blogging. (Purists might argue that these are really the same topic. I don’t care enough to disagree.)

Careful consideration led me to believe that this is in fact a beautifully circular pyramid scheme. The thing about pyramid schemes, which I thankfully learned in high school economics, is that the first people to get in can make a lot of money.

It’s only the poor suckers who follow who end up penniless.

I entered the scene some time after those poor penniless suckers, so I had my doubts about whether blogging was the panacea the people atop the pyramid would have you believe.

My conclusion? It is.

The costs of blogging

Before you get too excited about how blogging will make you stylish, elegant, athletic, and always able to find two matching socks in the morning, you should be aware of the costs.

Cost 1: Money

Blogging needn’t cost any money. You can blog in places like WordPress.com for free.

But perhaps you want to buy your own domain and pay for self-hosting. Note the words “buy” and “pay”. That means it costs money.

I do this. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Millions of those blog posts I mentioned previously can help you decide if it’s right for you.

Then there are themes, plug-ins, extra services, and copyrighted images. Again, you can avoid the paid versions of these, but at times you might really want them.

If the idea of running your own website sends you fleeing for the safety of your closet, you can pay people to do the technical stuff for you. I understand this can set you back a lot.

Notice a theme here? The shinier stuff you want and the less you want to do yourself, the more blogging will cost.

You can spend anything from zero to your entire fortune.

Cost 2: Time

Yes, once you have a blog you need content for it, and the occasional half day to wrangle with technical issues.

Clearly the more frequently you post and the longer and more researched each post is, the more time you’ll require.

I post twice a week, and the average post takes me two to three hours to write and format. For argument’s sake, let’s say I spend five hours a week writing posts.

Do you have time for that? I don’t know. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you think you don’t, but you really just fritter your time away on silly activities such as showering and eating. Cut those out of your life, and you’ll be amazed at how much free time you suddenly have.

Once you’ve created content and lured unsuspecting victims readers to see it, you might start to get comments.

This is wonderful.

It means someone likes what you’ve said enough to want to join the conversation. Or they like you enough that they’re going to interact even though they think your post is inane. Either way, yay!

Responding to those comments takes more time. But don’t complain about it, geez. That’s like someone bringing you a plate full of diamonds, and you whinging that they hurt your teeth.

Get in and join the conversation. This is half the point of blogging.

Hieroglyphs: not at all like blogging
You think writing blog posts takes a lot of time? At least you don’t have to carve them into stone.

The benefits of blogging

Enough of the gloomy downsides of blogging. What are all the sparkly rainbows you can get from it?

Benefit 1: Discipline

Do you ever have trouble sitting down to write? Do you find it easier to get something done once the deadline becomes imminent?

If you set yourself a regular posting schedule, blogging is great at creating self-imposed deadlines that force you to write.

Sure, you can blow off a day, but do you really want to let down your eager audience? Face that drop in stats when they’re just getting off the ground? I didn’t think so.

After a few months of posting on a regular schedule you might find your subconscious gets on board and writing regularly becomes easier. Hey, the discipline might even carry over to other parts of your life.

Benefit 2: Writing and editing practice

The more you write, the better you get at writing; the more you write and polish for public consumption, the better you get at, you know.

My published blog posts are chatty and imperfect, but they’re a huge leap better than the first drafts of my blog posts. They flow better, have fewer unnecessary adverbs, make my points more eloquently (hey, stop laughing!), and are several hundred percent more readable.

The practice I get here has spillover benefits for my other writing. The extra practice of one to two thousand words a week polished for public consumption should not be sneezed at. (Actually, you shouldn’t sneeze at things in general. It’s antisocial and a good way to spread plague.)

Benefit 3: Instant gratification

If you’re writing a novel, it might be years from the time you start until the time your first reader lays eyes on it (and hopefully loves it).

Compare this with the days or even hours between writing a blog post and setting it free into the internet wilds.

It can be hard to stay motivated over the long haul of creating a novel, and the instant feedback you get from a well-received blog post can provide a great pick-me-up along the way.

I confess I look at my stats too often, but it’s always such a buzz to know someone is reading and enjoying something I wrote.

A read? A summer daisy.

A quick tweet such as “Loved the post”? A hot cup of tea on a cold day.

A thoughtful comment? A slice of moist chocolate cake slathered in icing and paddling in a splash of Baileys with a dollop of ice cream.

What? No, I don’t think I’m hungry right now. I just love to hear from people who enjoyed my posts or have something to add.

Benefit 4: Community

The internet is a wilderness of unnavigable swamp interspersed by remote villages, where the locals eye outsiders with suspicion, and the occasional roaring metropolis.

On your journey you might meet wonderful people and chat with them at the local pub, but what happens when you want something more intimate and a setting that can never be bulldozed to make way for a mega-mall?

Your blog is your own little home in the internet wilds. You can invite friends back and chat about whatever you like, and no surly barman is ever going to hiff you out on the street.

If your friends want to talk later they’ll always know where to find you, and if you’re not in when they call they can leave a note and be certain you’ll find it.

Maybe I should have listed “community” first, because it really is the most awesome part of blogging.

To all the wonderful people who come by and comment or just read quietly, I can never say thank you enough.

Benefit 5: Overcoming fear

Sharing something you’ve written is terrifying. Doubly so if it’s a novel you’ve slaved over for years and poured your heart into.

Sharing a blog post is also scary, but you have less invested, so the worst that can happen is less like being eaten by a great white shark, and more like being nipped by a chihuahua.

Over time, when you realise all the chihuahuas want to do is bark at the squirrels and chase sticks, it becomes less scary.

My hope is that the experience will lessen the horror when it comes time to share my novel and face the great white shark. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Benefit 6: The whole platform thing

When I finally publish a book, will my blog help me sell it? I have no idea.

 

I’m sure I’ve missed some. What other benefits would you say you get from blogging? More broadly, what has your experience of blogging been like?

 

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

32 thoughts on “Blogging really is a get-rich-quick scheme”

  1. Excellent list! I think blogging also gives you an incentive to reach out to the community and do more networking. There’s certainly a reciprocal nature to the writing community and it starts by letting people know you’re there, either by posting in public places or joining in on others’ conversations.

    I definitely agree with the discipline bit. You have to keep up a regular schedule to attract the views and keep them. It’s something I wish I’d realized when I started my own blog. No one’s awesome enough to get readers if they only post once every month or so.

    1. Great point on encouraging you to network. Interactions alone are fun, but they’re so much more rewarding if you can turn them into something more lasting.

      I read before I started that three times a week is the minimum to build traffic, but I decided I couldn’t manage that. Maybe my blog would grow faster if I could, but I’m very happy with how things are going. Numbers are fun, but the community is more important. πŸ™‚

      1. Yeah, I also started posting twice a week because I didn’t want to fall behind or stress out keeping up. Plus, it’s enough to just get the ball rolling. I post on the days when I have minimal obligations, even though I write the posts ahead of time. It gives me a good backup plan if I fall behind. Maybe over the summer I’ll switch to three times a week, and I’ll keep it up as long as I can, but there’s a decent chance I’ll switch back in the Fall. Eighteen credit hours is gonna be a hell of a workload.

        1. Ah, the joy of studying. πŸ™‚ As you say, study has to come first for you. I think you’re doing very well if you can regularly post twice a week. To be honest, I worry about inundating people’s inboxes if I post more often.

  2. Hmm, they must be measuring the “quick” aspect in geological terms. I’ve been blogging here and there for the better part of six years, and I haven’t seen a dime.

    Sadly though, I do know the kind of blogs and articles you’re talking about. They’re the ones that recommend spicing up your writing with SEO optimized keywords — you know, just like Shakespeare and Hemingway used to do!!

    1. Wow, you’ve been around a while. I’m impressed. πŸ™‚

      Unfortunately, I suspect the days of getting rich quickly from blogging (in monetary terms) are well and truly over, if they ever existed.

      Shakespeare and Hemingway did indeed introduce all sorts of things to our culture, most notably the idea of including your most important key phrase near the start of the first paragraph and six more times during the piece.

  3. I like talking. Blogging seemed like a good idea. I’ve made some really good writing friends through blogging, and we’re always there for each other to give feedback and listen. I’m not surrounded by writers in real life, so the blog is like a virtual gathering of like-minded peeps who may or may not also be kind of crazy. ^_^

    My blog also kind of doubles as my writer website. I have an official author site with my name and everything, and right now I’m posting there about twice a month (haha), but I just got the site up and running in like March-ish? It’ll give the adoring fans I’ll have one day a place to go and geek out about my books without having to hear me drone on about writing like I do on my blog. Which I find fascinating, but like, not everyone does.

    1. Funny. I really prefer not to talk if I can avoid it. But I’m with you on collecting a lovely group of writer friends.

      It never occurred to me to have a separate website to my blog – I thought the idea of blogging was partly to make your website more discoverable. So I guess anyone who wants to wander around my website will have to live with banging their shins on my blog. πŸ™‚

  4. Spot on! Especially on the community aspect. I live in the sticks. I’m have tempted to start some sort of writing/book club here but the wealth I’ve found from the online community has been amazing.

    Blogging is a big leap. It can be difficult to find something to write about, I’m still struggling in my blogging infancy but I’ll get there. Blogging short stories for me is the most exciting and yet terrifying thing for me.

    1. Absolutely! I love the online writing community, and somehow I find it easier to talk about writing to people I don’t know personally.

      I agree it’s scarier to share fiction than non-fiction online. I don’t write many short stories, and sharing them is nerve-wracking. I hope it will get easier for us too.

  5. Excellent points! I’m not an active blogger, I’m not like you crazies who post several times a week. πŸ˜€ I’ve been posting approximately once a month, but even that is beneficial. I find blogging great writing exercise. It’s completely different from writing a novel, and in some ways a heck of a lot harder, but I’m enjoying the challenge. I was terrified of blogging at first, I found it scarier than publishing a book. It was like giving a speech in public. It feels good to have overcome that fear. I don’t get a load of traffic to my site, but amazingly, according to the statistics, the direction is up. So I do believe even a little bit of blogging is better than no blogging at all.

    1. We’re both called Anna, we write, we blog, we like Ms Akkalon and we’re terrified of public speeches. I think we should be friends. I’m potty mouthed and socially awkward (this is literally my best effort at making friends) but I can offer a wide selection of GIFs and cat memes for any occasion, and it’s been several years since any of my friends had to issue restraining orders.

      Whaddaya say?

      1. We should totally be friends! Actually I thought of you as a friend already because of the whole Anna thing and having friends in common. πŸ˜€ I probably should have said hi to you earlier instead of just admiring you from a distance…I guess that about covers it on my social skills. I’m so happy to connect with other socially awkward people, particularly when they come with GIFs and cat memes. Yay!

    2. Scarier than publishing a book! I hadn’t even considered that. So maybe when I come to publish a book it will be less scary than I expect. Or maybe not. πŸ™‚

      I’m glad to hear it’s working for you, and it’s interesting that you’re getting more traffic from blogging once a month. Is it organic traffic (like from Google), do you know? I get almost zero traffic from Google, and it’s mostly me trying to find my own site in my other browser.

      1. We’re all different. To me blogging is the great white shark. Publishing a book is maybe a moray.

        I have no idea where my traffic comes from. My blog is linked to my Goodreads and Amazon pages, so I have hope that some random real people are reading my posts every once in a while. I don’t think I get anything through Google except spambots. Spambots love me! Every time I make a new post I get comments and emails wanting to sell me Viagra or a new website.

        1. I had to look up moray. I assume you mean the eel, and not the region of Scotland. πŸ˜‰

          That sounds like an advantage of actually having published – you get an Amazon page and an author page on Goodreads.

          Google must not like me – it doesn’t even send me spambots. I guess no one thinks I need Viagra. Or maybe my website security thing is doing its job and keeping them out.

  6. I think blogging is much like writing – you should only do it if you enjoy it, because it’s not going to make you any money or earn the respect and acclaim of your peers.

    Thankfully I enjoy both writing and blogging and suspect I would carry on if I won the lottery and could pay people to love me. Though I’d probably also adopt 3,000 cats so whether I’d have time is another matter.

    I don’t know what I’m doing as a blogger, really. It’s perhaps telling that the majority of search engine hits for my blog are people looking for dinosaur+human erotica.

    1. If you had 3,000 cats they could all have their own blogs! Or you could be the 3,000-cat lady. You probably could get acclaim from that and make money.

      Maybe that’s why I don’t get much traffic from Google – I should write more about dinosaur-human erotica. I don’t know what I’m doing either. Sometimes I worry because the tone of my blog is pretty different to the tone of my book, but then I shrug and have another drink.

      1. I get a lot of Google hits but, with Google, you can’t see what search term the person used. Some other search engines do, and they’re the ones people who’re into dinosaur erotica seem to use.

        I don’t think the Google hits are as dinosaury, because I don’t get as many hits on the T-rex porn page when I have a lot of Google traffic.

        Maybe there’s a search engine called, like, Eroticasaurus or something, where all the dino-porn fans congregate.

        1. Oh, I wondered how people were seeing the search terms used to go to their sites. All I ever see is “unknown search term”. If it’s non-Google that explains it.

          I’m still delighted and a bit scared that dino-porn is a thing, but perhaps I shouldn’t be. I did write a whole post about dating dinosaurs.

  7. I didn’t know that dinosaur + human erotica was even a thing. Now that I know it is, I must know more. I expect I’ll be at your blog site soon, Anna Kaling.

  8. Great insights! To me, my blog is my own personal playground. A place where I can be creative, engage with readers (and writers) and have a little fun (even partake in a little silliness). There’s a cost, because of domain and stuff, but my enjoyment of blogging in a personalised manner outweighs that cost.

  9. Trust me, you DO want safe-to-use images. You can lose thousands getting sued. I use Stencil for $6/month and I love it, and it makes me feel safe using their images. I’m sure if I kept an open account even longer, they’d have an even better deal than that. I got Crowdfire for $3 a month on Cyber Monday, so it happens!

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