Tuesday, April 25, 2023

10 Blogging Myths—Busted!

I've been blogging for a long time. I've had this book blog for nearly 10 years. Before that, I had a blog about the history and ethics of capital punishment. Before that, I had a lifestyle blog. I've been a blogger since 2005, and I've come across a lot of misconceptions about blogging during that time. Today, we're going to bust some myths.

Here are 10 "facts" I've been told about blogging. Let's see how they match up to my actual experiences.

🖰  Blogging Myths—Busted!  🖳

Nobody Reads Blogs

This myth feels true, but it's not. My blog usually gets between 400 and 600 pageviews a day. Obviously, all those people read blogs. Blogs might not get the same amount of attention as YouTube and TikTok, but there are blog readers in the world. You just have to find creative ways to reach them. Pinterest has worked well for me.

Bloggers Earn Tons Of Money / Bloggers Earn No Money

Some bloggers probably earn a lot of money, but not me. I couldn't live on the income I make from ads and affiliate links. This blog is definitely a side hustle.

Blogging Is A Way To Earn Passive Income

The first time I encountered the phrase "passive income," I had to Google it. Nothing about blogging feels passive to me! These posts aren't quick or easy to write. There's nothing passive about self-promotion. You have to shove your stuff in people's digital faces, which is super uncomfortable.

According to Google, passive income is money you earn with minimal labor. I guess I understand why people put blogging in that category. Since readers can access a blog at any time, I can earn ad revenue while I'm sleeping. However, I had to do a ton of work to attract those readers while I was awake.

To me, blogging feels more like slow income. I do the work and then get paid for it very, very slowly.

If You Don't Make Money In The First Few Months, Quit

I saw this advice all the time when I first started blogging. People would say, "If you're not earning money within 3 months, your topic isn't interesting." I started this blog in 2013. It didn't make money until 2018 (or 2019?). I didn't start the blog for money. I did it to make friends, which is exactly what happened. I'm glad I didn't quit after a few months.

Bloggers Get Free Stuff

In my experience, this one is actually true! It's not really free, though. You get the stuff in exchange for writing reviews. You have to do some labor.

I turn down 99% of the free stuff I'm offered. I've been offered clothes, jewelry, glasses, notebooks, regular books, dog stuff, kids' stuff, electronic stuff, and tons of other stuff. I don't have the time or the desire to review all that stuff, so I don't want it.

You Have To Write Long Posts! / You Have To Write Short Posts!

Search engines like posts with over 500 words. Readers like posts under 500 words. I honestly have no idea how true either of those things are.

Here's what I've observed from my blog's analytics: People rarely read entire blog posts. They scroll until an image or heading catches their attention. They read that section. They keep scrolling. The post length doesn't matter. I don't worry about how long my posts are. I just type until I run out of things to say.

You Need To Be A Good Writer

Haha, nope!

I have a humiliating story for you!

I wrote a book about cults. It took 11 years to write because the amount of research I had to do was intense. Then the book spent an additional 3 years on submission to publishers. It came close to being published 29 times. Twenty-nine different publishing professionals gave me extensive notes on how to improve this book. I attempted to do everything they asked. All roads led to "No."

I spent 14 years (and a lot of money) on this project, and I screwed up every opportunity I was given. The book won't be published.

That's pretty conclusive evidence I'm not a good writer.

However, several hundred people read this blog every day. I don't think creative writing skills are necessary for blogging. I think these things are more important:

  • Know what information interests your audience.
  • Use headings and graphics to organize that information in a way that's easy to understand.
  • Have a strong voice that shows off your personality or your passion for the subject.
  • Use social media to make friends and promote your posts.
  • Interact with content that's similar to your blog.

You Need To Post Every Day

Maybe, but probably not.

For a few years, I posted on this blog almost every day. It helped me make friends. Search engines probably liked it.

Currently, I post twice a week. I get roughly the same number of pageviews whether I post or not. I don't have enough ideas to post every day. I've been talking about books for nearly 10 years! There's nothing left to talk about!

If You Post It, They Will Come

I had this misconception when I first started blogging! I thought I'd write something, and Google would send people to my brilliant creation.

Yeah . . . that didn't happen.

I barely got any traffic until I started interacting with other bloggers and using social media. Almost all of my traffic comes from Pinterest because that's my favorite place on the internet. I post a lot of content on there and interact with other book lovers.

(Here's some shameless self-promotion: Follow me on Pinterest!)

You Can Blog About Anything & Everything

You can. I haven't had any luck with that strategy.

I once had a "lifestyle" blog. I talked about everything. Fad diets, exercise, reality TV shows, books, cults, true crime, college life, dogs, art, ice hockey, politics, philosophy, nature, stuff I collected, funny stuff that happened to me. Everything. Nobody read my lifestyle blog because nobody cares about all that.

It was easier to make friends and gain followers with a book blog. When people come here, they know they're going to get "books" and "blog." They don't have to wade through a bunch of posts that don't interest them. It just makes life simpler.

Do you have a blog? Are your experiences similar to mine?


  1. I've been blogging for 7 years now, and I agree with you on a lot of these. I guess if you have ads, it's passive income, but people won't continue to come to your blog if you don't post at least somewhat often, I would think? So not completely passive. I definitely do not make any money off my blog, and only very small amounts on my affiliate links. It's just a hobby for me. I think you're a good writer! You have a very recognizable style and you know what works for your blog. You definitely don't need to post every day. That is not sustainable for most people.

  2. Another great (and amusing) post. And what determines if one is a "good" writer? You write some interesting stuff, AJ. Don't sell yourself short. I love reading your book reviews/thoughts on Sundays because you capture my interest, and that's saying a lot as we have very little overlap in books. I never tried to make money. I do this to interact with my ten blogger friends, and I enjoy it.

  3. Okay but HOW do you make money!? Like- I do the affiliate links, and I USED to do AdSense until they tried to charge me (like seriously?) but I have yet to make ANY money. In like, 8 years (before I closed th AdSense) I made like $100 from that. I once made $10 on Amazon after like 8 years too. Like. That is not a side hustle even, that is just... sad.

    So the writing thing... I think you ARE a good writer (and I am mad because I want to read this cult book so I need to go yell at everyone who turned you down) and I do kind of think you have to at least be semi-competent? If people are either BAD-bad writers, or boring writers, it's gonna be a no from me.

    I soooo feel you with the posting every day and such. I used to try that too. It did not work. And AMEN about the "free" stuff. Like- okay, I get a crappy, partially unedited digital file for... checks notes... at least 5 hours of work? Wooo. It's almost as bad as my actual job 😂

  4. I have heard all of this before and, like you, find most of it not true. I blog because I enjoy it not because I want to make money or be the best, etc.

  5. I've had a blog since December 2004, so I beat you by a few months :)... That said, what you say sounds pretty much what I've experienced. I never done it for money, but at one time did try to make money and gave it away to a local homeless shelter. I now post twice a week.

  6. Great post, and blogging sure doesn't feel passive to me either. I enjoy your snappy fun posts and you've got great Pinterest game. You were kind me to me starting out and yours is one of the blogs that inspired me to get posting. I think I've made $6 dollars this year from affiliate links, but I'm ok with that because it's my love of books that keeps me going. Met some lovely folk along the way too.

  7. Maybe people are reading less blogs but think somebody will a blog no matter what.

    I'm not making any money off my blog but I am impressed by people who do. It does take a lot of work to keep a blog going first of all and then to make money off it is pretty difficult.

    Word count is just subjective. I sometimes have no patience to read a long post and sometimes I do.

    14 years on a book? Sounds like hard work. Who decides what's good writing? Or who's authority are we to trust?

    Post every day is not always good, sometimes in order to meet you goal of posting everyday, you might post something that's not quite ready for consumption.

    If you post, sometimes people do come even when you don't promote your blog elsewhere. Some people may find your blog through other people's blog. Social media is good but what if you don't have social media?

    Some people have the luck of posting what they truly wanted to post and get an audience and then there's the rest of us. If we get one reader, it's a success.

    My blogging experience is mostly similar to yours though I haven't been using social media. I think cross promoting is all fine but I don't have the skills for it.

    Have a lovely day.

  8. Okay, if you came close to getting published 29 times, you ARE a good writer. In this industry, if you got that close even once, you have to be good. There are so many factors at play, and being a talented writer is just one of them. Heck, the number of fantastic, well-established writers who have at least one book that didn't get get published is pretty darn astronomical, so...

  9. I love this! I make no money from my blog. Nope, not a dime. I had no idea that you had written a book. How awesome!

  10. My blog is less then a year old and it hard to get traffic. Plus I read a lot of different things including movies, anime, graphic novels, and manga. Its kind of hard to find people that like all of that stuff as well.

  11. I've been book blogging for only a little over 3 years. Before that I had an art blog where I shared my artistic explorations. In both cases, part of the pleasure is finding my tribe, making those friends. I haven't had my art blog active in years and yet still keep in touch (virtually) with many of the art friends I made. I'm finding that a little harder with book bloggers, but it's definitely a supportive & inspiring community. Have a terrific week.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

  12. I have been blogging for seven years now and everything you said is true! Also I keep blogging at my own peace as I don't want to burn ouy. This is not a mean to earn money, this is a hobby.

  13. I've been blogging for about 13 years now. (Maybe 14?) I started it to share my thoughts about books and reading, and soon discovered that blogging and interacting with other book bloggers is a great way to make friends online. That's why I keep doing it, even when I get burnt out for a while.

    I agree with you on pretty much all of these. Most of my readers come to my blog because we interact on social media and/or on our blogs. (In Tumblr-speak, we're mutuals.) The only free stuff I accept and review is books, although I'd be happy to review book-related stuff sometime if anyone offered it.

    I tried posting 4-5 times per week, but I couldn't keep up the pace, so now it's usually between 1 and 3 times per week. I lost more readers and commenters when I had less time to visit other blogs, than I did by reducing the number of posts. But I treasure the people who have stayed and become friends!

    It takes me hours and hours to write a good, thoughtful review, and there's no way the blog could ever compensate me monetarily for that time, even if I tried monetizing the blog. Recently I have been thinking about setting up affiliate links with a couple of online book retailers, but only to defray a trifle of the hosting costs.