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How to make a million dollars blogging

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  • write because you must, not because of anything else

  • write only for yourself

  • organize your thoughts by writing

  • make friends by blogging

  • don't stop

Too simple? What? You wanted me to sell you an e-book?

Blogging is about making friends by writing out your thoughts so you can organize them. Because writing in a long format helps organize your problems and observations in a way that speaking, tweeting, or making list does not. Blogging has to first and foremost be about you, not the audience or the market or the cash flow or any of that junk. Perhaps you're the one guy who can write 1000 articles on pigeon-farming and make them all sing, but odds are you aren't. Odds are you will write crap and get disgruntled and quit. So, oddly enough, if you're getting into blogging to make a million dollar chances are you will never make it.

Have I made a million dollars? Nope. But I haven't quit yet either. (wink)

9 Comments

I'm disappointed this made it to Hacker News. Pretty superficial.

Chris,

Two things.

First, the point of the article is that simple things applied consistently beat out elaborate things. From an editorial standpoint I thought the shortest possible article was the best way to convey that.

I guess I'm saying I'm glad you found it trivial and superficial. Now realize that it's also true and it works. General fuzzy questions have general fuzzy answers. Sometimes people can say things that sound completely superficial and have a positive impact on folks. I wrote this because I wanted to remind myself of the rules.

Second, I'm not sure what the HackerNews slam was about. I only post my articles on HN, and I think this one got one vote. There were probably a thousand articles just like it that fell off the new page. Why the ugliness? Did you visit every article that got two votes today and deride the author? Or just me?

I like lots of things you probably don't. Isn't that great?

Thanks for the comment. It looks like the article had an impact on you, if only a negative one. That's fine. I suggest in the future you don't click on low-voted articles over on HN. The voting system exists for a reason. I really do appreciate your taking time to comment. Can't help you much, though. I liked the article the way it was. It had value for me.

UPDATE: Thinking about this some more, it occurred to me that perhaps you felt like you were being tricked. That wasn't the intent at all -- you can't really trick people to visit your blog. At least not on a regular basis you can't. I just wanted to make a point, and used brevity to do it. As you can see by this comment and some of my other articles, I am brevity-challenged. :)

Daniel, if you don't mind sharing, how much do you make from this blog?

Sure thing, no problem.

The blog basically breaks even -- about 30 bucks a month.

Last month I had that "Agile Ruined My Life" article, which got a lot of attention. So I think it went up to something like 80 bucks.

I've been blogging almost five years now. I just blog for myself. So it's not really supposed to be a money-maker, although as a hacker who loves startups, I'm always poking around with the blog to see what kinds of traffic/revenue it makes under various configurations.

I've found to be really careful with that inclination to poke, though. It's very easy to get off-track and start thinking in terms of being a publisher instead of being a writer. It's probably better for me and you if I remain a writer. :)

I will say that revenue (and traffic) on the blog keeps growing by about 10% a month. If it continues like this, it could get into "real" money in a few years. Don't know. I try not to dwell on it.

$30 a month after blogging for 5 years? I understand the title of this post is tongue-in-cheek, but I'm now confused as to whether the main purpose of your blog is to make friends or money.

Of course, there's the possibility that you have made money through friends you made on this blog, as patio11 often talks about.

Yes, you are exactly correct. You make the friends, then the money comes. But you don't focus on the money. That's like playing football by watching the scoreboard.

The post was meant as a bit of a slap to folks who are out to get rich quickly. It doesn't work that way. Or rather, you can make it work that way but then you stand the chance of becoming a person you'd rather not be -- setting up bots to troll CL, making fake FB friends, etc.

That kind of give-me-the-money-now stuff just isn't me.

Patio11 has it exactly right.

Of course, if the blog keeps growing at 10 percent, it actually does add up to a million bucks at some point in the next ten or twenty years. So even though it was tongue-in-cheek, there's a bit of seriousness to it as well. The advice is simple, trite, facile -- and it also works.

The more I read about Adsense, the more it seems to me the worst way of making money on blogs.

The readers suffer: even from the highest CTR numbers, it's obvious that the vast majority are not interested in ads. It makes for a terrible reading experience.

The writing suffers: as you implied, your main goal is writing for yourself and sharing it with others. Ads just get in the way.

I think it's far better to have something interesting to say, write well, build up a genuine reputation and sell a product you yourself have created or use and admire.

Or indeed, sell your services as a consultant or contractor. It need not even be just inbound; why not advertise oneself as being available for freelance work?

(OT: your comments captcha keeps giving me an error even when I'm sure I've typed in the right characters)

Sorry about the CAPTCHA.

I don't know. I have some highly-targeted sites using AdSense that works quite well.

I've also played around with various bone-headed ideas on this blog. One time I did body-painting. Another time I did an article on some 18-year-old track start that everybody thought was hot.

Guess what? I'm still getting 4 thousand hits a month from that track star article. So now I'm the tech consultant guy with pictures of half-dressed women. Not exactly my goal in life.

So I finally just gave up on writing for anybody but me. I mean it. The minute I find myself thinking of the money or the audience I stop. I write because I am a writer. That might mean more "nerdy cute girls in T-shirts". Or it might not. Don't know. I'm not going to worry about it. I think that was the point of all of this -- if you do things for the right reasons, are patient, and make friends? The rest of it works out.

Well, as long as writing for yourself keeps you going, that's awesome.

I'm really terrible at that though. Sometimes, I do feel like writing about business and other things that interest me, but so far I've just not gotten around to doing it. I'm scared of embarassing myself.

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This page contains a single entry by DanielBMarkham published on October 1, 2010 7:01 AM.

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  • Hrishi Mittal: Well, as long as writing for yourself keeps you going, read more
  • DanielBMarkham: Sorry about the CAPTCHA. I don't know. I have some read more
  • Hrishi Mittal: The more I read about Adsense, the more it seems read more
  • DanielBMarkham: Yes, you are exactly correct. You make the friends, then read more
  • Hrishi Mittal: $30 a month after blogging for 5 years? I understand read more
  • DanielBMarkham: Sure thing, no problem. The blog basically breaks even -- read more
  • Hrishi Mittal: Daniel, if you don't mind sharing, how much do you read more
  • DanielBMarkham: Chris, Two things. First, the point of the article is read more
  • chris: I'm disappointed this made it to Hacker News. Pretty superficial. read more

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Recently I created a list of books that hackers recommend to each other -- what are the books super hackers use to help guide them form their own startups and make millions? hn-books might be a site you'd like to check out.
On the low-end of the spectrum, I realized that a lot of people have problems logging into Facebook, of all things. So I created a micro-site to help folks learn how to log-in correctly, and to share various funny pictures and such that folks might like to share with their friends. It's called (appropriately enough) facebook login help