People make some pretty absurd claims about making money from blogging. The internet is packed with far too many YouTube videos and paid courses, talking about “six figure” incomes and the ease of earning from a blog.
The things is, people CAN and DO make a huge amount of money from blogging. But it’s not easy, and it’s definitely not a good fit for everybody.
With that in mind, this article presents the 10 honest disadvantages of blogging.
- Why Listen to Me?
- The Honest Disadvantages of Blogging
- 1. Success is Not Guaranteed
- 2. Blogging is About FAR More than Just Writing
- 3. You’re at the Mercy of Google (or Pinterest, or Facebook)
- 4. Competition can be Fierce
- 5. Some of the Work is Repetitive and Boring
- 6. There are Lots of Fires to Fight
- 7. There’s a Steep Learning Curve
- 8. Anonymity isn’t Really an Option
- 9. Some People Won’t Support (or Understand) What You Do
- 10. Most of Your Posts Won’t be Successful
- What Now?
In the interests of perspective, I’ve also produced a companion article on the advantages of blogging. My suggestion is to read both, and if you THEN feel that it’s time to start your own blog, grab some web hosting and get started straight away!
Why Listen to Me?
I’ve been a blogging professionally since back in 2009. You’re reading one of my blogs right now, and I’ve worked on numerous others, both for myself and for my clients.
I’m always keen to encourage others to start blogs of their own, because blogging has given me a working life I enjoy, a ton of freedom, and great work life balance. However, I have a real problem with sites that don’t tell the whole truth about blogging, usually because convincing people it’s easy helps to sell whatever they’re selling.
One of the disadvantages of blogging is that making any money requires an enormous amount of “front-loaded” effort. Yes, blogging can provide you with that much-desired passive income, but only after months and years of consistent work. If you’re not ready to write dozens of articles without any immediate pay-off, you won’t make a success of blogging. It’s really as simple as that.
But how many sites selling blogging courses openly tell you that? Not many. They tend to prefer to focus on the big head-turning financial numbers.
Not everyone has the tenacity and drive to stick at a blog for the time required to make a success of it. I’ve coached bloggers over the years, and quite a number decide again proceeding once they realise how much work is truly involved. As such, this article is intended to give you the whole truth about the disadvantages of blogging.
If you can honestly say that blogging still appeals after reading this (and reading about the advantages too!) then you probably ARE the right kind of person to make money blogging. If not, then move on to something else – there are over 50 different online job ideas listed here.
The Honest Disadvantages of Blogging
1. Success is Not Guaranteed
Not only does blogging involve a lot of up-front work, there’s also no guarantee that it will pay off.
Perhaps that sounds unfair, but running a blog is no different to running any other business. You have competitors, challenges, and global events that can send things off course. Taking this very website as an example, it currently receives far less traffic (and makes less money) than it did prior to the pandemic, due to every major news outlet in the world now talking about home working!
The fact success isn’t guaranteed isn’t a reason not to try. But it’s important to remember that you’re not “owed” an income, simply because you’ve created a certain number of blog posts.
To rise to the top, you need to be outperforming the competition in every possible way, from content quality to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). In some blogging niches, your competition will have deep pockets and years of experience.
Not every blog succeeds. Carefully choosing what to blog about can increase the chances of things working out with yours. Check out our blogging tips for beginners for more on that.
2. Blogging is About FAR More than Just Writing
For some people, this is a plus point, but it’s always been one of the key disadvantages of blogging among my coaching clients. It puts many of them off altogether.
The reality is that writing articles only accounts for a fraction of the real work involved in running a blog. There’s also sourcing and optimising images, dealing with legal compliance, mastering social media, interacting with readers and fans, and fending off hackers and trolls. There’s financial admin, dealing with affiliate and advertising networks, and keeping up with Google’s constant algorithm updates and moving goalposts.
And that only scratches the surface.
How you feel about all of this stuff is perhaps the best indicator of all as to whether you’re the kind of person who should start a blog. You learn a huge amount, and every day brings a new challenge. However, if you visualised running a blog as little more than having a place to endlessly create and “let the words flow,” you’re likely to be disappointed. Some of this stuff can be a drag, and you don’t get directly paid for ANY of it.
3. You’re at the Mercy of Google (or Pinterest, or Facebook)
For a blog to be successful, it needs traffic.
For most bloggers (but certainly not all), the primary aim is to get that traffic from people searching for things on Google. That’s why the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) industry is so huge. Only a handful of websites can be on the first page of the Google results for each search query, and there’s huge competition for those coveted slots.
The trouble is that Google’s mysterious algorithm changes all the time, and so does the way Google displays results. In recent years, for example, Google has been putting more paid adverts (that they make money from) and “People Also Ask” questions above the natural “organic” search results.
As an example, have a look at the below screenshot of the search results for “home working.” As you can see, there’s currently only one “organic” result visible on the first screenful of search results, and that’s from Indeed, a huge global job board.
There’s much debate around whether blogging has got “harder” in recent years. From my own perspective, it has in some ways. I have many articles ranking on Google’s first page, but lots of them generate very little traffic these days. They used to, but now they’re “buried” beneath adverts, and an ever-growing selection of new search “features.”
Every time Google releases an algorithm update, there’s no end of controversy and anxiety among bloggers. There are always winners and losers, but the reality is that you’re always only an update away from having the rug pulled from under you. An update may mean you suddenly gain 20% more traffic (and income), but it can mean you lose it too.
None of this means you shouldn’t start a blog, but it does mean it’s not for the faint hearted, and it’s certainly one of the disadvantages of blogging. Pinterest, Facebook and all of the other social networking sites have their own algorithms, and those get updated too. Plenty of bloggers who’ve relied on Pinterest traffic have had wobbly moments over recent years. (Check out Pinterest Traffic Avalanche (reviewed here) if you’d like a way to stay on top of those updates).
In summary, the goalposts can move when you’re blogging – a lot – and that means you often have to adapt in order to thrive. That usually means learning new things and switching strategies.
4. Competition can be Fierce
Blogging is hardly a new thing. It’s incredibly unlikely you’ll find a subject niche that’s not already been covered by some other sites – or even monopolised by a handful of big players.
Furthermore, in niches where there’s big money to be made (such as personal finance and tech), there are always big competitors willing to spend big money on grabbing the lion’s share of the search results. It’s not at all unusual for established bloggers to launch a new site with a willingness to spend six (or even seven) figure sums on flooding their new sites with hundreds of articles.
So where does that leave the smaller fish?
All is far from lost, but it does make niche selection incredibly important. Sometimes it’s best to niche down: Instead of a food blog, go for a gluten free food blog, or a vegan food blog, or a dairy free food blog, or a low calorie food blog. Instead of a site reviewing all computer hardware, how about a site reviewing equipment for Twitch streamers, or digital photographers? Instead of a pet blog, how about one focussing on a particular dog breed?
There are plenty of ways to stand out. Perhaps it’s your own specialist knowledge or experience of a topic. Perhaps it’s about the level of detail you provide, or how willing you are to “self disclose” about a sensitive topic. There’s always a unique angle.
Just bear in mind that in some subject areas, you truly are at a disadvantage against the big fish. Have a look at the search results for the kind of topics you plan to write about. If they’re overwhelmingly held by huge, established blogs, household name companies and big newspapers, you may be facing a serious uphill battle. Ask yourself what exactly you’re going to do to be better, more unique and more relevant.
In some cases, it’s best to just admit to yourself that you won’t compete, and to choose a subject that’s less saturated. In 2017, when I started this site, the home working niche was WAY less crowded and competitive than it is now. If I was starting a new blog in 2022, I probably wouldn’t choose this topic – I’d go for something where I had a better chance of success.
Just one other point on this: Don’t be too intimidated about competing with people who have more money to throw at blogging than you do. You can substitute money for time and sweat. It may take you much longer to get 200 articles up and start to see a good income, but it’s not impossible.
5. Some of the Work is Repetitive and Boring
There’s no sugarcoating this: lots of blogging tasks are boring and repetitive.
One task I find particularly dull is reaching out to other sites for mentions and links. It’s a pure numbers game, and one that involves being ignored and knocked back a lot. Sending out 100 emails in the hope you get a handful of replies is nobody’s idea of fun – but it has to be done.
Similarly, you often have to write lots of very similar posts. If a certain format or topic “works,” and brings you lots of traffic, a wise strategy is to flood your blog with more articles relevant to that topic. You know it makes sense to do it, but it’s much harder to motivate yourself to write the tenth similar article than it was to write the first one.
Ironically, boring is good when it comes to blogging. Once you hit on a formula that works, the correct strategy is to do more and more of it. Ultimately you have to produce the content your readers (and Google) want to see. That doesn’t always tally with the stuff you’d ideally like to be writing about.
6. There are Lots of Fires to Fight
We’ve already talked about dealing with the constant disruption of algorithm updates, but there are plenty of other things that can happen with a blog that you suddenly have to deal with. They include hacks, server outages, new legal requirements, disputes with readers and partners, and a thousand other things.
It’s another reminder that blogging for money is running a business. It’s not just about those wonderful times when you’re sitting on a hotel balcony writing articles about the things you love. Reality often gets in the way of that.
7. There’s a Steep Learning Curve
Do you need to be technical to run a blog? No. But it certainly makes things much easier.
At the very least, you need to be somebody who’s willing to jump on Google, research problems and try to fix them. If you can’t make an image sit in the right place, your site slows to a crawl, or you find out it’s not looking right on mobile devices, you need to work out how to rectify it. Often that means learning a whole bunch of complicated stuff.
How much of a con of blogging this is depends a lot on your mindset. I love learning, and delving into a new topic. But if you find that kind of thing a frustrating drag, blogging may not be for you.
8. Anonymity isn’t Really an Option
In the early days of blogging, lots of people did it anonymously. On my own first blog, I only used an initial to identify myself – to begin with.
Things are rather different nowadays. Readers want to know who they’re “listening” to, and Google’s focus on EAT (Expertise, Authority and Trust) means that it’s much harder for anonymous blogs to gain any momentum.
If you wish to stay “incognito,” the modern blogging landscape doesn’t really make that easy. If you’re not happy to “put yourself out there,” blogging may not suit you well.
9. Some People Won’t Support (or Understand) What You Do
Even though blogs are ubiquitous now, plenty of people don’t understand how they work, or conceive of how people could possibly make money (let alone a living or lots of money) from running one. This can make blogging quite a lonely thing to do.
Furthermore, you may be surprised and disappointed by how unsupportive those close to you are. Your friends and family may read, like and share your first couple of posts, but interest tends to tail off over time. Your nearest and dearest may not understand your desire and willingness to put a year or two of effort into a project that may never bear fruit.
The answer to this is to become part of online blogging communities where people do understand. Some blogging courses come with access to private Facebook groups or forums, packed with smart and knowledgeable people – I’m a member of several myself. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (reviewed here) is a good example of a course that also gives you access to such a community.
10. Most of Your Posts Won’t be Successful
There are over 250 posts on this site. Last month, nearly 50% of my traffic came from just 10 of them. And that’s far from unusual. It’s been the same on EVERY blog I’ve ever worked on.
The reality is that some of your articles will succeed and some (perhaps most) of them will bomb. There’s generally little correlation between the posts that are subjectively great (and that took you hours or days) and the ones that go on to produce money and traffic.
You have to accept this, and know that there will be LOTS of real “labour of love” posts that never get the audience they “deserve.” Similarly, you’ll probably find that a few thin and unspectacular posts go on to be among your biggest earners!
However much you plan and strategise, there’s a whole load of random in blogging. Before you start, it’s worth being honest with yourself about whether you can make your peace with that,
If you’ve read all this and still thing blogging is a good fit for you, then you should – without question – give it a go. There’s nothing quite like “learning from doing” so why not get some hosting now and get started? Dreamhost offers hosting for blogs from as little as $1.99 per month.
You now know about all the disadvantages of blogging, but there’s a much brighter positive side too! If you’ve not yet read my advantages of blogging article, check it out now.
Also, while you’re here, check out my blogging tips article, and consider one of the options below:
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.