It is 2018 and there is a lot of noise about blogging, as there has been over the years. So you are considering starting a blog and making lots of money via ad revenue. Hold your horses and read this before you make that move.
The Web has changed a lot since blogging first went mainstream years ago. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks did not hold sway back then. Now they do. Google, too, is much more powerful than ever. So, what?
It means that as a blogger, you have to spend more time and other resources courting search engines and social networks than ever before. It is not as simple as cranking out great blog posts any more.
Getting Traffic for your blog
Starting a blog is very easy. Building its traffic is much harder.
You have to optimise for SEO (Google) and for social (Facebook and Twitter especially). The big challenge is that the algorithms change so often and so drastically that this can be a frustrating roller-coaster ride. Forget about thinking that the changes are always altruistic: many times, they are about securing a hold on users and revenue. So, no; Google and Facebook are not always acting for the general good. They are run by humans afterall.
You can have very relevant content, spin gripping stories, spend millions one well-targeted marketing, and a new Google or Facebook policy would upend everything.
The other option is to build your own loyal user base who wake up in the morning and login to your blog same way lots of people wake up and login to Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc. Pull that off and you can safely not bother too much about the giants in the room.
Web advertising income
So you have cracked the tough code of traffic. Great. Up next is income. The easiest way to generate revenue from blogging has been to sign up for an additional network and slap ads on your blog posts and pages. Newsflash: that has become a pipe dream too in the new digital dispensation.
Again, the main culprits are Google and Facebook, but all and networks are complicit. Ad revenues have plummeted in recent years. See the word I used? I didn’t say “dropped”. Plummeted.
From Google AdSense to Media.net to MGID to Facebook, the story is the same. Revenues from those networks have dropped. Even if you want to be a vlogger (that’s video blogger, if you’re new), it is tougher to make money from YouTube ads these days than ever before. Someone has put it this way: The ad-driven media is a “broken system”. I agree. Badly broken. So you have to think up new ways of earning an income from blogging.
Sell a product. Sell a service. Partner with someone or a brand that sells something and share revenue. Those are a few quick ideas. Feel free to explore the terrain for opportunities.
Another you will have to deal with as a blogger is piracy. It has become a nightmare. You will spend valuable time and resources researching and writing valuable content, only for others to simply copy and paste from yours. So, it is harder to stand out now, no matter how great your writing skills.
Some of your content will appear on pirate blogs within minutes of your hitting the “Publish” button. There are ways to fight it, but it is mostly a losing battle.
How bad is the situation?
Oh, it is very bad. Online media are shutting down every other day, including respectable ones with millions of monthly page views, as well as much smaller ones with a few thousand. Many others are merely coasting along. Digital publishing is much tougher to sustain than ever before.
It is about the blog traffic and the balance between operational expenses and revenue. It is almost looking like blogging has come full circle from its roots when people blogged out of interest or passion to when the media jumped on it for business, and now we might be back where blogging exists primarily for passion.
To blog or not to blog?
If you are looking at blogging just for the financial returns, this might be a good time to reconsider. Chances are that you will hit a brick wall and go find something else to do later.
If you have the spirit of blogging in you, then blog you must and you will find a way. Chances are nothing can keep you away from doing it.
As always, I deal with facts. I lay them down and let you decide what to do with them.
I do not believe that blogging is dying off. It is changing though and will evolve, as many things are. Adapting to its evolutionary path is the challenge that you must take up if you want to get in on the action.