This is a guest post by Richard Adams.
There are literally tens of millions of blogs online and yet only the tiniest fraction of them really make their owners any significant income. While there’s nothing wrong with simply starting a blog for pleasure or as a networking tool, for those people considering trying to make money blogging there are a few home truths you need to be aware of which you might not have considered before.
In this article then we’re going to “devils advocate” and look at five reasons why it can be harder to make money blogging than with some other Internet business models.
1. Constantly Changing Front Page
When it comes to getting free traffic from the search engines arguably the most important page of any website (whether that’s a static website or a blog) is the homepage. After all, the homepage receives the vast majority of the links that point to a site and furthermore is typically built around a specific keyword phrase which the owner hopes to rank well for in the search engines.
With a static website it’s easy to constantly test and tweak your homepage – adding or removing text, images, videos and links until you find the combination that gets you the highest search engine ranking possible.
However by definition the average blog’s homepage displays the latest posts that have been added to the site. This has two effects. The first is that it becomes impossible to “tweak” your homepage because it’s content changes constantly. Secondly you are likely to find your rankings for the primary keyword phrase you have chosen going up and down over time as the content on your homepage changes unless you have invested serious time and money into an effective link building campaign that makes you “untouchable” for your keyword.
This means getting predictable, reliable, long-term traffic for your main keyword phrase can be far more difficult than if you were creating a static website.
2. Regular Content Updates
A further key element of blogging is that a blog is meant to be regularly updated. And this need for regular new content puts you under pressure to constantly be producing it – either personally or through the use of paid writers or guest bloggers.
I have a static website that I haven’t added to, changed or modified for the last 8 years yet it still brings in AdSense income and affiliate commissions like clockwork without even being touched. Only when the AdSense income stops do I realize my domain or hosting must have expired, then I renew them and the income carries on.
Not so for a blog though. A blog requires a more constant source of effort when it comes to creating content which makes it far harder to generate “passive income” from a blog than a static site which can be left for months or even years between updates. Blogging, in many ways, is therefore harder work and requires more effort than some other ways to earn a living online.
3. Time-Intensive Link Building
Every article you add to your website needs to be focused on a specific keyword phrase that you hope to rank for. And while onpage SEO will take you so far, the other key element to a high-ranking web page is the number and strength of the incoming links pointing to it.
In short – every article on your site needs links pointing to it.
And as we’ve already said blogs require more content than most static websites, which in turn means more link building required.
There are those people who just keep churning out article after article and over time the long-tail phrases these articles appear from draw in some traffic but if you really want to get the most traffic possible to your site (and consequently make the most money possible) then you need to create articles based around keyword phrases that get a decent number of searches and then you need to build links to these.
4. Less Content Structure
Static websites typically use a “forking” structure for their site navigation. Let’s take the example of a website about how to make money blogging. The site may be split into categories such as “setting up a blog”, “blog layout”, “blog traffic” and so on. And within each of these categories may well be subcategories and so on, all linking to each other in a neat, organized way.
The benefit of this type of site structure is not only that it makes it easy to navigate for visitors but thanks to the different sections it also makes it easy for the search engines to find all your content, understand what it relates to, and rank it well in the search engines.
Blogs, in contrast, typically don’t use this rigid structure and instead broadly categorize their posts into a small number of categories which may each contain hundreds of individual posts.
This structure can not only make it harder for your visitors to find what they’re looking for because they have to search through page after page of content to find a topic they are interested in but it can also make it harder for the search engines to find, index and rank that content that lacks a clear navigation structure. Which can mean yet more lost traffic (and as a result, revenue).
5. Entrepreneurial ADHD
Blogging is exciting and there are constant stories about new technology or new marketing strategies. From Facebook and Twitter marketing, to social bookmarking, podcasting, video marketing and so on. From selling text links, display ads, product reviews and even sponsored blog comments. From new themes to new plugins, widgets and applications that all promise to make your blog better, boost your visitors or help you earn extra money from your site.
Whilst all these “bells and whistles” are one of the things that can make blogging exciting – after all it’s a constantly changing landscape – it can also become a big problem and can lead to lack of focus.
Rather than concentrating on getting the basics right – producing great-quality content and then building high-trust links to it – it is too easy to find yourself going round and round in circles, investing time and/or money into the latest “must have” tools only to find that at the end of the month you’ve seen no noticeable increase in the results that really matter – such as your profits, traffic and subscriber numbers.
Older, more “boring” ways to earn a living online such as building static authority sites rather than blogs can help you to tune out the “noise” and achieve the results you want sooner.
I’m not in any way trying to knock anyone trying to make money blogging. It can and has been done and I’m certainly not saying that blogging is necessarily “worse” than any other way of making money online. Instead my goal is simply to highlight a few issues that readers here may not have considered. If you’re currently trying to make money blogging but are having a hard time of it, or if you think I’ve missed any important points out, please leave a comment below with your opinions.
Photo Credit: Steve Depolo