Why Blogging is a Waste of Your Time

By: Ramsay | 68 intelligent opinions, add yours

Villa-Maria
Creative Commons License photo credit: Esther Gibbons

That’s right. Blogging is a waste of your time. The title is not designed to mislead you. Sure, it is designed to be a little bit enticing but not at all misleading. In this post I am going to talk about why blogging is actually not all its made out to be and why it could be a massive waste of the precious little time that you have. But don’t worry, its not all doom and gloom. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel (post).

Your goal: making money online

For the purposes of this post I am going to assume that your goal is to make money online. This might be so you can quit your day job or so you can work from home. Or, perhaps you just want a little extra cash to save up for a new car or something. If you are blogging to make money online then you could be wasting your time.

If, however, you are blogging because you want to help people or because it is a creative outlet for you then it is an entirely different story. The results of this type of blogging cannot be measures by dollars and cents.

Why blogging is a waste of your time

So why is blogging a waste of your time? What am I talking about? Well it is pretty simple. Blogging can be a distraction from your main goal. In fact, you can spend so much time focusing on blogging that you forget to actually make any money.

Wait a sec Tyrant, what are you talking about?

Let me explain. There are thousands of ways to make money on the internet. Blogging is just one of them. And to be honest, blogging is not one of the better ones. It is a lot of work and takes a long time to yield any monetary results. But it has become so popular over the last decade because of its accessibility that everyone thinks this is the best way to make money online.

I often think that if people took the amount of time they spend writing articles and put it into developing a ebook or a product site or learning how to run affiliate campaigns they might be a lot better off. I could be wrong but I suspect that for a lot of people this is the case.

The American myth
Americans are brought up with the idea that anyone can rise to do anything. As a kid I remember watching American movies where the hero starts out with nothing and rises to be a powerful leader or an amazing athlete. The problem with this, however, is that it is rubbish.

This might sound extremely harsh and confronting and I am sorry if it upsets you. But there is no way that anyone can do anything that they set their mind to. I, for example, could never be a professional basketballer because I am not tall enough. I could never be a jet pilot because I have bad eyesight. And I could never be a quantum physicist because I suck at maths.

But you could get good at maths if you practiced“, I hear you say. Sure, I could. But I could also spend that time doing something that I am naturally good at. I could use my natural abilities and talents and put them to good use. That might be a better idea.

I don’t want to get into a debate about natural talent vs hard work because I think it is a hard argument to win. On one hand I know that you need hard work to succeed (and I work really hard) but I also know that there are guys out there who do half as much work as me and are already 10 times better.

So are you good at blogging?
So now we arrive at the crux of the ramble – are you good at blogging? Is your writing improving over the weeks and months or are you still not making an impact like you thought you would be? Take a look at the number of subscribers, visitors, comments and backlinks and see if they are increasing. If they aren’t increasing then maybe you need to take a (hard) look at your strategy. Is blogging a waste of your time? Is it distracting you from something that you are good at or more suited to?

The real point is about getting distracted

Erik has spotted Superman
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

Please read this carefully. I am not trying to discourage you or dash your hopes and dreams. I am actually trying to do the opposite. I want you to succeed and make money and help other people and be happy. I really do. What I don’t want you doing is getting distracted. And there are two types of distraction now at play here:

  • Getting distracted from your goal
    Your goal is to make money online to give yourself a better life. Blogging might not be the best way to do that. It might be a distraction that you use because it is easy, available and popular. But perhaps you would be better off doing something else?
  • Getting distracted from blogging
    After reading this post you might get distracted from blogging. You might read the doom and gloom and think about giving up. That is also a distraction. If you are good at blogging and love it and you believe in your ability and trust your long term strategy then you need to keep blogging, even if it doesn’t seem like its paying up right now. Don’t get distracted by this article.

Blogging is a waste of time if it is distracting you. This is something that is sometimes quite subtle to put your finger on but it is vital to look for.

So what else is there?

So what other options are there for someone who wants to make money online? What do you do if you realize that you want to drop the “professional blogger” tag and start looking into other areas. Well there are heaps of things:

  • develop product based websites about things you know about
  • create a book or ebook based on your areas of expertise
  • learn affiliate marketing and how to create product landing pages
  • build a website around a tool or concept that you know
  • build an iPhone app
  • make youtube instructional videos
  • get content creation work
  • etc

The opportunities online are endless. And what you might find is that actually blogging is the best thing for you. But what you really need to remember is that you can’t get distracted from your goal. If you find a better way to make money that is still fun, enjoyable and ethical that you need to check it out as well.

Remember the opportunity cost
Opportunity cost is a term you learn in economics class that refers to the stuff you have to give up when you choose one option over another. For example, if you decide to go to the beach on Saturday it means you can’t go to the snow at the same time. That is the opportunity cost.

Now, if you are blogging for an hour each night after work you are foregoing something else. What is it? Is it family time? Exercise? Sleep? Is it working on a better web strategy or even on an offline business? Is it worth it?

Everything that you do has an opportunity cost and that is why it is so important to figure out whether blogging is a waste of your time. You might actually find that the other stuff is the cost and you should spend more time blogging. Just don’t get distracted in whatever it is that you choose to do.

What do you think?

So what are your thoughts on this partially coherent ramble? Do you think you are wasting time blogging or do you think that there is other stuff that is a waste of your time. I would be really interested to hear whether any of you would consider doing something else if the blogging gig didn’t work out soon. Please leave a comment.



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68 Comments

  • What can I say? This coming from an instructional site on how to dominate the blogosphere!? :) But there’s quite a bit of truth in it. Rather than spending time to learn a new skill, why not build on your existing one?

    I guess that many of blogs started out not as a money spinner but somewhere along the road, you would think that making some spare cash on the side doing something you have been doing anyway sounds like a good idea. But that changes the whole equation. In fact, there’ll be a certain skew towards what you blog about and pretty soon your readers will notice that as well.

    At the end of the day, I think we have to be honest with ourselves on why exactly are we doing this, and work towards that.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      You’re absolutely right SiL. Most people just start out as a hobby. Good point.

  • This is the most refreshing and awesomest (its not even a word and I dont care) post ever.

    This line:

    “In fact, you can spend so much time focusing on blogging that you forget to actually make any money. ”

    that did it for me right there LOL!
    SO true.
    I started online 6 months ago. within 2 months I had figured out how to rank and build a few niche sites and was making around $100 a week (not bad)
    Then I started a blog to build my brand and leverage this skillset I was learning……then ummmm

    OK so 6 months later, I am making the same amount from my niche sites. WHY? BECAUSE OF THE BLOODY BLOG!

    Listen to this guy people – and stay the F away from the blogosphere.

    if you know what’s good for you that is

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Alex.

      I really didn’t want people to think that blogging was all bad. Don’t you think that it is the right strategy for some people?

  • I’m with you 100% on this. Unless blogging is your business, then it’s main uses include marketing, biz dev, community building. If it’s marketing, that means learning better ways to convert readers into customers, etc. etc. It’s a lot of work. It’s also a ton of work writing content every day and analyzing it’s effects. And as you said, you could take that same effort and turn it into a killer e-book or site that people will pay for.

    Blogging is also one of those things that takes time and concerted effort. Anyone getting started should know what they’re getting into, define their goals, and keep that in mind with every post.

    Great advice today. Thanks.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      That’s it Robert – I think blogs form part of an overall strategy but shouldn’t be the main strategy.

  • Ha. Great article. I know that I am spending way too much time on my site/blog but at least I know that it is mainly for fun. If I eventually get enough visitors to start making some money, great, but that’s not the point. I come across way too many sites that have no original content & they wonder why they’re not making money. I’ve been wondering a lot about this lately & think I should write a guest blog for somebody entitled…

    “Why the business of the business of blogging is one big pyramid scheme.”

    Let me know if you’re interested, wink, wink. For some reason, certain fields give people delusions of grandeur, think music & blogging, but what they don’t realize is that it takes years to develop these skills just like becoming a doctor or a professional cyclist. I’m an amateur bike racer & you learn real quick how hard it’s going to be to succeed even on the smallest level.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Desktop Analyst.

      Thank you for your generous offer but I’m not taking any guest posts on Blog Tyrant for a while. Need to get my own voice and style out there first.

      It sounds like an awesome post though – I’d love to see it up on Problogger!

  • Interesting post. Every day thousands of people start a new blog with dreams of making big money from writing a few posts. But six months later most of these blogs are abandoned never having made a cent.

    Blogging is a great way to build a community of active readers which can then be leveraged to make money through related product launches and affiliate marketing.

    However, it takes a massive amount of time and energy to create a successful blog community.

    And I think part of the reason so many people fail to build a profitable blog is the perception that because blogging is highly flexible (work anywhere, anytime etc) it’s also easy. But it takes daily commitment and a highly organized, professional approach.

    If more people were aware of the realities of building a profitable blog, fewer new blogs would appear every day.

    Stuart Laing

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Stuart I think that’s why I always really respected Darren Rowse because he emphasizes the work over the “dream”.

  • You make me ponder for a while but luckily i am not distracted and still enjoys blogging :) Making money is out of my mind at the moment. To be able to continue blogging without any distractions, i think that’s important if your goal is not just about making money.

    You need to balance up your time between family, blogging and other activities. As long as it’s something that you enjoy doing, you are not wasting your time. But if you are clearly affected by an unrealistic goal in blogging and being forced to blog, then it’s definitely a waste of time.

  • An interesting article indeed. I think most of the people opt for blogging with a single objective of putting some content and have the ability to get some adsense revenue from the same; without realizing blogging has much more to it then just making money.

    Based on my personal experience, I feel that blogging in itself is a science. Not only you need to create useful content – but at the same time work on how to promote the blog, create new content ideas, think of innovative ways of marketing, connect with other people and in turn create some value for the visitor.

    I have been working in semiconductor industry for the past 10 years – and believe me I have learnt more in the last 6 months of blogging then I have in those 10 years. I rather look upon blogging as a way of learning new things, trying the same and helping others out (if you face hurdles and believe others would get benefited).

    For the sheer value of new learnings that I have made – I do not think it is a waste of time at all. May be it is the foundation of something better you can do tomorrow. I would rather look at it as a mechanism to build roots of tomorrow’s tall tree.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Great point. Good lessons to be learned, if you have the time.

  • I have struggled with this a lot personally, and after a lot of soul-searching I have come to the conclusion that you really need to find YOUR OWN reason to blog (if indeed, like you suggest in your post, it’s what you want to do).

    That’s what I have struggled with – finding that reason. I know I love to write, but it was the thought of actually helping people that has finally given me the reason I had trouble finding at first, which is why all my previous blogs failed.

    But I also think that as far as making money online, while blogging by itself isn’t the best way to do this, it is a great way to boost your audience when used in conjunction with another product or service. I think a great blog lends credibility, which can help dramatically when trying to sell something to people.

    Anyway, a really good post, as always. Your posts are always refreshing and insightful.

    Cheers,
    Russ

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Russ – I think as long as you keep the idea of helping people as your main goal whatever you do in life will work out, at least because you won’t have any regrets.

      Tyrant

  • I agree with Alex here in that this is the most refreshing and awesomest (sic)post I have read.

    I initially started blogging to make money or so I thought. After a week or two I re-evealuated and asked myself ‘why do you really want to do this?’ And the answer I came up was to share my knowledge and skills and to try to help people write better and achieve their goals. For me that makes blogging worth while.

    Thanks for sharing

    Michael

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Michael. Love your contributions around here.

  • I started my blog a couple weeks after you started Blog Tyrant and when my husband sent me your site I felt like I’d wished on a lucky star and had my wish granted. Your posts have come at crucial times for me and this one doesn’t deviate. 6 days after starting my blog I started to see a rise in readership and 10 days after day 1 I saw my visitor numbers reach a limit I didn’t think I’d be seeing for weeks! I am only 15 days in at this point, and my best days are by far Thursday and Friday because of the nature of the content. My husband has a hosting site and is moving my blog there so we can install google analytics, cant wait for that. And in regards to this post, I feel uniquely connected to it because I work as a certified nurse assistant 50hrs/week for a little boy who has a disorder that renders him unable to see, speak or walk. My opportunity cost is TV, so I began blogging a few weeks after starting the job as something creative to do. I fell in love with writing again, after many years of going in a different career direction, and have unearthed a passion I am confident and excited about continuing. Now, I work on my blog, blog for a clothing line and have copy writing jobs in the works. I’ve also been networking like crazy so I know it’s only up from here! I can’t thank you enough for all of your insight.

  • An excellent piece of advice. I publish a hobby magazine both on paper and as a PDF download. I started blogging with the thought that it would reinforce and possibly expand my customer base by giving them extra material that they would find helpful and entertaining. Well, it does that, but I hadn’t anticipated how much hard work it would be to maintain. As a one-man-band operation, blog posts really gobble up valuable time, and the financial return has been questionable at best.

    What I’ve done recently is switched to FaceBook posts, which are great for relationship building with customers, advertising clients and others in my industry. Feedback is also very quick. In addition, I use Twitter for short, swift headline-like announcements, which are also gradually building a following. But the real revelation has been creating an email newsletter system with AWeber – over 500 of my customers have already signed up and both the feedback and sales generated have been outstanding.

    I shall continue to use the blog for those occasions when I feel I have something ‘meaty’ to communicate, but most of my effort will now go into the email marketing and newsletter, which my customers are voting for with their mouse clicks in big numbers.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Henry.

      Thanks for leaving such a great comment. I really like what you have to say about the blog and think that, in truth, the way you use the blog is how they were meant to be used for a lot of people.

      On the side, what’s your experience of AWeber? I have been using Campaign Monitor a lot and found it to be quite good.

      Tyrant

      • I have many lists in AWeber and have had a great experience with it. Definitely recommended.

        • the Blog Tyrant

          Is it expensive?

          • Robert Dempsey

            Starts at $19 US per month. If you have any questions please shoot me an email and I can tell you more. I’m definitely a happy customer.

    • manny

      hmm, switching to micro/social-blogging seems like a good idea as your business matures

      I’ve seen quite a few take that step.

      if you’re just starting i dont think it will bring in the attention you need, but as volume increases is probably the best route.

      In the mid term is good to start combining both.

      your newsletter method also sounds interesting.

  • What an insightful article! The title itself should be an inspiration to all bloggers. After all, who in their right blogging mind could not click the ‘read more’ button?

    I think you’ve pressed a lot of buttons with this one, you’ve certainly helped me evaluate my reasons for blogging. Am I targeting real problems? Probably not. Am I really helping people? Well, I like to think so because I’m providing information about an area that I couldn’t find much about on the internet when we moved here – but in reality, other more powerful media bodies are probably covering it a lot better than me now.

    You’re so right about examining what you’re good at and leveraging that to make money. But I still think that blogging (done right) can provide a platform or a stage to help you get there. Maybe it is at an opportunity cost, but maybe that’s where the ‘workhard to achieve your dream’ comes in. As you say though, you need to examine your overall strategy first.

    Each time we’ve moved country, I’ve needed to reinvent myself (11 times and counting – no we’re not on the run, just working global nomads!) Moving to Australia with my family at a (fairly) advanced age was my most difficult relocation yet, because gaining any attention as a freelancer in a young, up-skilled country was disheartening. But blogging increased my dwindling confidence, gave me an identity (quite quickly) and got me noticed in the right places.

    You are quite right. Blogging in this instance will not bring riches, but if I stay open to opportunity, and use it as a stage, the spin-offs may be immeasurable.

    Perhaps that’s the crux of blogging? As a means to an end you have to keep an eye on the doors opening (or closing) around the stage … and act quickly.

    Keep up the good work Blog Tyrant. I look forward to your next post.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Great comment Johanna. Where abouts are you in Australia? I’m down South!

  • Thanks BT.
    I’m down south too … but south west. A couple of hours south of the Swan River.

  • Two words. Point on. When anyone is getting into a new business they visualize the money and totally ignore the work involved to get that money. This applies to conventional offline business and businesses online.

    One thing is for sure, when you start a business driven by money pursuits and the money isn’t forth coming sooner than you envisioned, many quit at this juncture. And that is the difference between get-rich-quick-wannabes and the wealthy folks. They(wealthy) do what they love confidently and never sway even when the cash isn’t flowing into their bank accounts.

    The desktop analyst thinks blogs can be compared to pyramid schemes in the article he is pitching for …”Why the business of the business of blogging is one big pyramid scheme.” That is an interesting way of looking at it though in the years gone by, things have changed nowadays.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Great comment again Teddy. Thanks so much for getting involved.

  • We can not blog for money in mind at the beginning and your blog will benefit you when you have reputable brand. It should be passive income. Great article and I can not agree more!

  • That’s true, though a lot of people are blogging by pleasure and not only for money.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      They are? Who? Where? Ha ha.

      Thanks Alex.

  • In my opinion, blogging isn’t very useful in the short term – there are costs for setting up a blog and it takes a lot of time and dedication t make a blog successful. However, in the long term, you get to interact with many like-minded readers and bloggers, maybe even talking to people you won’t have talked to before and you can even make some money. Though you have to keep blogging even when it feels like a waste of time if you want to get those benefits.

  • Pete

    Long time reader first time poster. :)

    Great article. I first started out blogging with one mindset, which was to make money. As you can imagine this dream failed. What has worked is using my blog for my own personal growth and development. I use it as journal and wiki.

    I have found a “monetary value” from my blog that I never thought of… Friends. I never realized the power of a blog and its ability to network and meet new people and eventually make new friends. This is the real value of a blog to me.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Pete that is so true. Darren Rowse from Problogger said that he has had offers of millions for Problogger but, although it doesn’t make him much money directly, it builds his reputation massively.

  • I truly think blogging is not for everyone. You must have some skill sets in order to run a successful blog over time. In addition, you can’t rely on writing articles and making money off the traffic. You must have several add-on services to ensure your income stream.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Exactly. Hard truth though don’t you think?

  • Zach Miller

    I believe a blog was never supposed to make money for anybody, but rather a byproduct for teaching somebody something useful.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      You’re probably right Zach. But if you have the opportunity to make money should you?

      • Zach Miller

        In reality, if your going to take the time and money (considering that you want a commercial domain, web space, etc) to put one up and post on it. You might as well do so, as long the content you sell is your best work.

  • The one thing that blogs about blogs don’t like to talk about is the factor luck has to play. Simply being in the right place at the right time is sometimes all that is needed to be a “successful” blogger.

    My first blog got 100k hits in the first month, is it because I did something awesome and clever? No way! I just happened to say the right thing at the right time.

    Of course, there’s always the hard way too ;)

  • Hey,
    So true.

    Can’t remember where I read or heard it but someone said that it’s better to make your strengths stronger and not try to make your weaknesses less weak.

    I can’t really say I’m good at blogging. I’ve been doing it for 2 year part-time now, have literally spent days writing hundreds of articles and have managed to grow my blog to 2200 readers.

    My goal of course is to make sufficient money from online to be able to live off, and I’m still far away from achieving that.

    However, I really enjoy what I blog about, and it is helping a lot of people. I have launched my first product 3 months ago and am almost finished with my 2nd product which I will launch at the end of this month.

    I know that if I keep going I will eventually build a big audience and make decent money from the blog, but that is a very long term thing and might take another 2 years.

    I do build affiliate sites, but haven’t put as much time into that. I wonder if I had spent all that time of blogging and put it into affiliate marketing if I would be any better off? Who knows.

    Thanks for this!
    Cheers
    Diggy

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Keep going Diggy. Diversify. That way if something drys up you aren’t left out in the cold.

  • Hello

    I came across this post from problogger I think and I have to agree I have often thought that blogging is a complete and total waste of time on numerous occasions. Mainly because on the internet there are just too many distractions. However, why do I continue blogging? Right now I think I have the best reason and that is I continue blogging I suppose is that 1. I love it and 2. I don’t have a steady job that I go to.
    One reason why I haven’t made any significant money blogging is that up until this year I have been blogging as a hobby on far too many topics. So my motivation now – since I have no steady job, continue my passion and be more focused.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Loving your comments lately Ben! Thanks for all the great input.

  • I think blogging is very much an individual journey. I read lots of advice about blogging by professional bloggers and, while some has been helpful, reading too much advice from others can be distracting. Most blogging advice is aimed at people trying to make money blogging, which isn’t the only goal. My own blogging journey started as an attempt to provide helpful commentary to current and prospective clients, and I still forward relevant posts to individual clients as they grapple with challenges I’ve written about before (and they appreciate the customized attention). The blog has become a sort of knowledge base for our business. I also find it forces me to research new ideas in my field so I can blog about them, and it keeps me writing which is a great way to clarify my thinking on important topics. I do sometimes get bored and feel like it’s falling into a rut, but actual touchpoints with real clients always gets me back on track again.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Cindy its a really good point you make about too much advice being distracting. Most of the time we just gotta get on with it!

      Tyrant

  • This is right on. I struggle with the time issue a lot. I have to manage my time in a much better way if I’m going to be successful at blogging. The opportunity cost is something I’m weighing really hard right now.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Let us know what you come up with Dennis.

      • About the only I’ve come up with this at this point is to blog late at night. I sometimes give up sleep in order to get the work done that I need to. I’m sure that eventually it’s going to catch up with me, but I’m not giving up time with my family for anything, including blogging. How’s that sound?

        • the Blog Tyrant

          Good. An even better solution would be to look into outsourcing eventually.

  • Excellent post. This really hit home, as I started a blog about 6 months ago, and have put a great deal of time and effort into it. While I don’t post every day, I post 2-3 times a week and I make sure each of my posts is well-researched, well-written, and proofread. I’ve recently been happy to see my traffic increasing, and I’ve gotten a flurry of comments lately — it’s always great to see that real people are reading and enjoying what I’m writing about.

    However, as my blog traffic has increased, my book sales (I’m an independent author) have decreased at almost exactly an inverse rate. There’s a small trickle of affiliate revenue, but certainly nothing to write home about. So it doesn’t appear that getting visitors to my blog is helping me sell books or make money.

    Fortunately, I mainly do it to help fellow authors and readers and I enjoy posting and responding to comments. But you’re definitely right that blogging is only a wise financial plan for a tiny percentage of people.

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Why do you think the book sales have decreased?

      • I wish I knew so I could fix it! It’s very hard to pinpoint where book sales are coming from, since Amazon and B&N don’t give us info on where purchasers are coming from, how many download samples, etc.

        I don’t think in my case they’ve decreased because I’ve spent too much time blogging instead of promoting elsewhere, although my promotion probably has slacked off a little bit just due to fatigue. It’s also just possible that my books peaked and then have somewhat run their course and demand is slacking off over time.

        I thought the blogging would give them a bit of a shot in the arm (after all, if readers think my blog posts are written well, I think they’d be inclined to think my books are also written well). I thought it would be a way to reach new readers — and maybe it is helping (my sales very well might be worse without it), but I doubt it. I know I don’t get many sales directly through the affiliate links to my books on my blog, but I have no way of knowing how many people remember my name, or search for me on Amazon or their Kindles after reading my blog.

        • the Blog Tyrant

          I know Tim Ferris and Leo Babatua have books that do well because of their blogging. Maybe check out those guys?

  • Great post, and great blog. I only stumbled across it today.

    Whether or not blogging is a waste of time is definitely something I’ll have to think about in the next few months. I started a blog a few weeks ago which, for now, is simply a “stuff that interests” me blog as I prepare for a round the world trip. The end goal was to *somehow* monetize the travel blog to offset some of my spending. I’ll have to consider the opportunity cost of spending hours and hours a week on content over spending that extra time learning the country’s culture.

    Looking forward to future posts!

    • the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Callum.

      Let us know what you come up with.