TLDR: Having a solid online presence is required to make a living online, but a blog is not necessary.
I get it. You’ve probably read a bunch of make more money online posts and they’re all telling you to start a blog. It’ll help you make passive income they say. You can one day make six figures they say.
Yeah, that’s the dream isn’t it? Sip cocktails on the beach while raking in the dough.
What These Bloggers Don’t Tell You
Let me start out by saying that there are many legit bloggers that tell you blogging can take a while to earn money. Now there are those who really know what they’re talking about and whom I totally admire.
Jon Morrow is a great blogger and teaches you how to create a website that works and make more money by scaling up a blog. And he knows what he’s talking about. So if you’re one of them, great.
However, many of these people – truth be told – are making money off of telling you to blog. As in, they make a commission off you every time you sign up for one of the services they promote on their posts on how to start a blog.
Of course, there’s nothing against those who want to make more money (um, hello, I enjoy it myself!). However, some of the services these people promote aren’t great. As in, they’re promoting certain products because the commission is the highest, not because the company itself is great.
And here’s another #truthbomb: Many of these bloggers provide tutorials on how to set up your blog only. Do you notice in many of these posts there is no mention of the mindset work or even other crucial things that are actually important to blogging, such as being a good writer and knowing how to connect with the very people you’re writing for?
Sure, the barrier to entry is extremely low in that anyone can get up and running in a few hours, and it’s less than $100 a year to initially invest in blogging. There are many that even talk about how theirs grew within a year and are now earning six figures. But having a successful blog can take years.
However, is it their first blog? How many attempts have they had beforehand? Or (while we’re calling out people here) are they outright lying?
Yeah, it’s hard to think people lie just to make a buck, but they really do. I’ve met so many people who blog about blogging and it’s their first blog (mostly about blogging #eyeroll). It’s those people that make a bad name for all of us.
But if you want to connect with people and make a successful living online, having a blog is NOT necessary. In fact, I had a successful business way before I started this blog.
How I Earn a Living Online
My main bread and butter is actually running a content marketing business. As in, I help other businesses write ebooks, articles and even video scripts. When I first started, I had nothing other than a professional email address, a LinkedIn profile and an online portfolio that was free.
Just with that, I grew my side business and was able to make more money. So much so that it earned me $20,000 in the first year and doubled it the year after. I eventually created a website because I wanted to look more professional (in that the free online portfolio service was limiting me).
Don’t believe me? My friend Louis doesn’t even have a website and leverages his LinkedIn profile to earn over six figures in freelance writing. While Holly Johnson does have a blog, her freelance writing business is separate from it and she earns more than $200,000 (no, that is NOT a typo) a year. Damn, I wished she had her course on freelance writing when I first started out, it would have saved me so much heartache.
The point I want to stress is that while blogging is great, it’s not necessary. Please don’t get sucked into the whole idea of it being the ultimate passive income source and sign up for crappy web hosting services. So many friends of mine got suckered into these services, only to have to switch companies months later.
So What Can I Do If I want to Make More Money Online?
While you don’t need a blog, you do need an online presence. Sure, you can build a following on social media or a third party platform but you’re kind of at their mercy. Don’t be like the company Little Things that had to fold their business once Facebook changed how people viewed posts.
So yes, sign up for a great website hosting service (I use and currently recommend Siteground after my fiasco getting suckered into a crappy company) and just make a website. Don’t blog if you don’t want to.
If you want an example, check out my content marketing business. It’s a simple website that showcases what I do, who I work with and a place to contact me for information. That’s it. While it’s a lot of work initially to go get clients (frankly, blogging is a lot of work too), I now rely on a lot of referral business and people stumbling upon my site.
Like with anything, look at your personal situation. Why is that you want to create passive income? Are you willing to actually do the damn work (be honest!) to make a living online? Will you put your skin in the game in terms of time and money?
It took me five years of hard work to get to where I am. And frankly, I started this blog to help others. Yes, I make money off it if only to offset the costs of actually running this site. But I promise you this: I will never promote starting a blog as a way to make money. While it’s been fun for me, there are other ways to earn a living online.