Starting a blog is still a powerful way to generate a second income.
This isn’t new news.
Here’s what blogging experts love to tell you
The blogging experts will tell you that you can make $10,000 per month blogging, just like they do! Maybe $30,000! You can live wherever you want! You can travel! You can work from a coffee shop in Paris one week, from Barcelona the next!
They’ll tell you your blog can turn into a lifestyle business!
They’ll tell you that just one article can potentially lead to millions in income!
They’ll make it seem so simple and almost effortless—as long as you join their premium Academy, their Mastermind, or their Insiders Lab.
Browse the archives of these experts’ websites and you see nothing but crazy headlines that should set off alarms in your head:
- How Author Bob Johnson Generated $15,000/Month Within Just 9 Months!
- Suzie Redenbacher: How This Single Mom Made $100,000 Last Year with Her Mommy Blog!
- Unlock the Secrets for Turning Your Blog into a Money-Making Machine!!
- He Built a $200,000 Asset in Just 20 Months!!!
Triple exclamation points!
I’m glad you’re here reading this so I can be your reality check, because what’s missing from the other sites is any sort of disclaimer about how your mileage will likely vary.
Here’s what those blogging experts skim right over
What the experts don’t tell you is that the path to a passive income with your blogging is an arduous one. There’s heavy lifting involved and you have to be willing to persist. Especially for non-techies who don’t know the first steps to building a website for that blog.
It’s extremely rewarding and will help you develop entirely new skills. But it is arduous.
They definitely don’t tell you this when they share the success stories. But you can see it if you’re really paying attention.
Here’s what need to know, that they don’t tell you directly when starting a blog.
1. Your site really needs a rock-solid web host
The funny thing about many bloggers who talk about blogging is that they almost all recommend Bluehost or Hostgator for your web hosting, and I’m not even going to link to those companies so you don’t think I’m pulling the same shenanigans.
But here’s the thing.
Bluehost and Hostgator have lucrative affiliate programs. The experts will send you there, while they host at Cloudflare (not an affiliate link). They’ll send you there, while they host at ServInt (not an affiliate link).
The truth is, few of them actually host with the very companies they’re sending you to.
You have to ask yourself: Why do the blogging experts send me over into this web host for my website, while they’re over here in this other host?
Well, they do it under the guise of recommending a low-cost web host for you, since you’re just getting started. But the affiliate relationship is the driver.
The problem is, those hosts have had rocky track records when it comes to customer service (that’s an understatement). My personal experience has been awful, and neither of those two offers fast, secure hosting—crucial for a good reader experience.
You’ve got to go with a proven host that offers security, speed, and customer service. I recommend SiteGround, but you anytime you’re curious where a specific website is hosted, visit whoishostingthis.com to investigate.
Do as they do, not always as they say.
2. Building a network of backlinks is going to be hard
Almost everyone agrees that authoritative backlinks are still, as of 2017, right at the top of reasons why a website ranks high in Google searches.
Everyone touches on the need to do it. Few talk about the number of hours you’re going to have to put into it.
Many of these blogging experts do their thing in the confines of a tight-knit community of collaborative blogging experts who constantly share one another’s content. They quote one another, they interview one another, they link to one another.
They talk about you repurposing your content, but in reality they’re repurposing each other’s content!
It’s genius, really. Brilliant.
They’ll tell you to write epic content, but even their mediocre content—articles that offer no new insight, no new tactics, no new wisdom—but shared widely.
I’m not telling you this to get you frustrated, I’m telling you this to put a reality check on things.
You’re going to spend 8-10 hours each week writing for your blog, if you want it to matter at all. You’re going to need to spend 4-6 hours each week promoting your content to build a network and backlinks.
Dirty little secret #1 is you’ve got to build a network of your own advocates that can help fuel your backlinks.
Dirty little secret #2 is you’ve got to consistently reach out to others and ask them for backlinks. Don’t promise anything monetarily. Don’t get crazy with the quid pro quos. But do share your content with other site owners whose readers will benefit from it, who may not otherwise know about your content.
Dirty little secret #3 is having multiple authors contribute to your site is a great way to do this as well. Those authors have their own LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, and blogs, and even sometimes Facebook pages or groups, to send traffic to their posts on your site.
(Having multiple authors is a key tenet of standing out and building something bigger than a blog, anyway. Anyone can start a blog. Being recognized as a published expert comes when you build something bigger than a blog.)
Brian Dean is the go-to expert in tactics for building backlinks. I highly recommend you digest his stuff.
Here’s a glimpse at what chapter 4 of his guide on Link Building covers on that topic.
3. Blogging results take time
It’s the question on everyone’s mind who’s starting a blog. How long before I see results from Google searches?
Of course it depends on a variety of factors. But here’s the tl;dr version of their article:
…the average Top10 ranking page is 2+ years old. And those that rank at position #1 are almost 3 years old (on average).
It takes time for Google’s magic influence to rain down upon you. That’s why you’ve got to go to great lengths to generate your own traffic.
When I worked at an SEO agency in San Diego a few years ago, numerous new clients with brand new sites came across my desk. I strongly urged every one of them to supplement their SEO efforts with paid search and paid social advertising efforts.
I urged those clients to do this because search engine traffic takes time, and if you want or need to generate traffic more quickly, it’s going to come through additional paid advertising efforts—and yes, the blogging experts do this themselves. Sometimes they disclose the fact that they do retargeting, or that they run Facebook Ads; often they don’t.
Starting a blog is highly rewarding
None of these dirty little secrets is immoral, or dishonest, or disingenuous. They’re just not emphasized nearly as mush as they should be.
And sadly, there are numerous additional “truths” that I’ll share here at Side Project Plan.
The positive here is that you will love the second income you earn from launching a digital publication that’s bigger than a blog. When you think beyond a blog, you open up all sorts of income possibilities that bloggers don’t enjoy. But even starting a blog can be a fun adventure.
For every success story about a person who started a blog and reached $10,000 per month in income within 6, 12, or 18 months, there are people who earn a more humble, but perfectly acceptable $500 per month with a modest 10,000 monthly visitors.
They pay off debts. They fund future vacations or kids’ educations. They take their future retirement into their own hands.
And yes, there are stories of people who blog and earn nothing despite their best efforts.
But it’s important to go into starting a blog with some realities in mind.