Home » Blogging, Online Income

No Free Lunch For Aspiring Bloggers

29 December 2009 16 Comments

There are millions of people looking to launch a successful blog.  Some are looking for income, some a voice.  When it comes to success in both the traffic and income areas, there is no free lunch.  I’ve searched websites for years now looking for that key to blogging success.  That key that will put my blog on the fast track to thousands of daily readers and thousands of advertising dollars each month.  There is no such thing.  There is no free lunch.

There are no big keys to a successful blog, there are only multiple little keys.  The three main keys to success are content, link generation and consistency.  No surprises there.  Any decent blogger already knows about these things.

There are literally thousands of “how to blog” blogs.  Most of them say the same thing over and over in an attempt to drive traffic to their own blogs and generate income.  Most fail to do so.  The reality is that most advice that you get on such blogs is either knowledge you already know or a load of nonsense.  With that said, there are some worthwhile blogs on blogger that I visit myself.

But, the important thing is that there is no substitute for the three main keys that I already mentioned.  You need to produce quality content.  You need to work on generating links to your blog.  And you need to do both of these consistently over time with a high level of frequency.  Note that all of these things take work, lots of it.

Growth will likely be slow, and most of you have probably already realized that it is going to take longer than you think to get to where you want.  It is for that reason that blogging about a topic that you are either very passionate about or already involved in (perhaps your day job is in the same area) is absolutely key. Otherwise, you will likely burn out.

Now that you understand what is required, let’s dive into each area a little bit more…


Blogging is writing content.  That’s pretty much it.  If you aren’t a good writer and/or an interesting writer, then you’re likely wasting your time.  If you aren’t writing about something that somebody wants to read about, you’re wasting your time.

If you’re spending more time thinking about web design & layout, monetization, and driving traffic than you are about what you are going to write about today, tomorrow and in 6 months, you probably won’t see any significant growth for your blog.  Focus on writing content that is very high quality.  Focus on writing content that is interesting.  Have an opinion.  Don’t be a news site unless you think you can compete with CNN.com or DrudgeReport.com which of course, you can’t.  Be interesting, be passionate, have an angle, talk about specific stuff.

Blogging is writing content.

Link Generation

This is probably one of the most talked about areas although it tends to come with a lot of misinformation.  Most people would recommend generating links to your blog through writing comments on other blogs or message boards.  Also, most people recommend submitting links to social media sites.  For the most part, I think all of these are a waste of time.  While these activities hold some value for other reasons, they won’t do much in terms of generating links for your blog for the purposes of search rankings and for driving traffic.

I’m in the camp where I think Google (and other search engines) knows how to weigh accordingly comment links and similar type links.  They know the difference between natural organic links and writing comments and forum posts in the name of generating backlinks.  It isn’t hard for them to distinguish.  Use the rule, if it’s very easy to do, it’s probably not very effective.

If we use that rule, it means that the effective methods are the harder ones.  Natural backlinks require quality content.  Back to that content thing again! Another good method is to write guest posts for quality blogs.  This requires quality content and impressing a blog owner enough to have him publish your content.

Lastly, I tend to think that high quality directories are actually a worthwhile pursuit.  Why?  Because most bloggers won’t pay $30-$300 to have their blog listed.  It’s about differentiation.  Differentiating your blog from other blogs in the eyes of search engines and readers.

If the “how to blog” crowd is unanimous in specific strategies like commenting on other blogs, social media, etc. then these are the strategies that you should not spend a great deal of time on.  Should you do these things?  Yes.  But don’t build your core strategy around them.  Instead, move toward the areas that the herd is not moving towards such as super quality content and web directories.  Sorry guys, like the title says… no free lunch.


Now that you have read in detail what is required in terms of content and link generation, do it.  Then repeat.  Again and again and again.  Maybe after repeating it over and over until you want to throw up, you will have a growing blog in terms of both traffic, readership and income.  That’s what you want right?  Good luck!


  • Financial Samurai said:

    Hi Kevin – Thanks for your article. What are the parameters you would use to consider a blog "successful"?

  • 20smoney said:

    Well that depends on the blog and blog owner. For me, success is about traffic growth and income growth. I want to develop this blog into a real income stream. $1000/month is the goal at this point. If I reach that, It's logical to shoot for $3k-$5k per month. As long as the growth trajectory is up, we're getting closer to success. What about you?

  • Financial Samurai said:

    I would say for first 3 years, and maybe even 8 years (the earliest I would consider retiring) my site is just a platform for interaction and writing, and not about money at all. Money is what my job and investments are for.

    If someone wants to pay me X amount a month to advertise their product, I'll think about it. But, you'll probably rarely ever see me try to and write something for advertisers.

    If you make 1k, then shoot for 3-5K, when does it ever end? I'm assuming you have a full-time job, so I'd be careful in getting too consumed by your site at the expense of your real money making potential. I know I'm trying not to be consumed either.

  • 20smoney said:

    You can make good income thru basic advertising like Google Adsense. I'm not really referring to writing something for advertisers. I try and stay away from that.

    I agree, the real money making potential comes from my career. Honestly, I'd love to get the site generating good income then do my best to automate it and only spend a couple hours a week maintaining that income. That for me makes sense.

  • Financial Samurai said:

    Ryan – I'm against Adsense and all the other contextual advertising platforms b/c I myself don't click on them, I don't want my readers to click on them. "800% Penny Stock Returns" is not something I want my readers to be subjected to our click. I just want ads that I can back 100%, or even 70%, but I still back

  • Tom @ CFB said:


    I've had good results with AdSense. You can filter out certain terms if you'd like to reduce some of the crap ads.

    I haven't filtered yet though, I figure people know they are ads and they'll click if they want to. Even though 99% of readers are not clicking my ads, the 1% that does covers my expenses, including a new computer and office furniture.

  • 20smoney said:


    Thanks for the comments. I agree that the ads are pretty clear that they are in fact, ads. Therefore, I leave the responsibility to the visitor on whether they want to click it or not. I'm not encouraging anyone to click them.

    Do you ever post your blog revenue/earnings? I enjoy reading such posts. My December update will be posted next week.


  • FinanceDad said:

    Blog comments don't mean a thing to your SEO, unless they're do follow, and the vast majority aren't. I like to comment to meet new people and interact. Good things do come of that too. You're right though, there are millions of bloggers, you better have a memorable brand or just do it for fun. There is money in blogging if you have unique content. The problem is, too many people (including myself) are too lazy or don't have the time to create truly orginal and unique content.

  • Derek said:

    As a web developer, I too side with the same search engine camp as you. Content is king, and that is what I tell all my clients. Generating useful and interesting content should be your top priority. I haven't had any experience with paid directories. I am preparing an article to submit as a guest post, so we will see how that goes. It definitely should work out well, dependent on the blog's pagerank and traffic.

    As for leaving comments, it is something I am guilty of, though I don't do it for traffic. I only leave comments to articles I genuinely appreciate. And I try to be honest as possible with my comments, I'm not going to lie and say I enjoyed the article when I didn't. I view it as a reward. Receiving comments on your blog from readers, especially positive feedback, is very rewarding as a blogger. So I try to reward fellow bloggers whenever I find a post that is exceptional. However, there is a potential beneficial side effect. There is also some hope that they check out my site, but rather hope that they subscribe to my feeds and return the favor and give me a reward when I write a great article 🙂

  • jacob@ERE said:

    It definitely depends on your definition of success. If the goal is not SEO or ad-income but a group of regular readers, fans if you will, which would be interesting in buying content, like ebooks or subscriptions, content and consistency is key, but instead of link generation, commenting on other blogs is the best way to attract new people. If you can guest post on a related blog, obviously this is really easy for "how to blogs" since they all write the same kinds of posts, that is a very quick way of instantly gaining new readers. If the content is not related, only a few of them will stick.

  • JohnMathew said:

    Its a great post..well done..i really like it..

  • Devon said:

    Well, way to burst the new guy's bubble. But I definitely appreciate the info. I got into this stuff not knowing anything about SEO, or website development…can't even get Google AdSense to work on my page yet. Also, I listed my website here. Seemed ironic. Thanks again, it was useful information to say the least.

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