Is Blogging the Path to Dreams?

It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! March’s theme is blogging. In previous weeks I talked about blogging your dreams, about how bloggers are real people, and about the ins and outs of building community through blogging. This week I am talking about what blogging can and can’t do for you. I also have links at the end of this post to some other fabulous bloggers and their thoughts on blogging, so be sure to check them out!

I run ads on my blog through BlogHer’s advertising network. I put the ads up around 9 months ago, and I don’t regret the decision. BlogHer has been easy to work with and responsive, they allow me to opt out of certain types of campaigns and they build community within their network by posting links to selected posts with each ad block. Plus, I don’t have to do any work beyond cutting and pasting a code into my sidebar, they handle all of the ad sales and so on.

While I am generally happy with the advertising arrangement I’ve got here, it is not a path to riches. On average, I have made around $25 USD per month from my ads. Still, it’s $25 for something I’m doing anyways, and with no effort on my part. Over the 6 months I have been paid for so far, I averaged around 8000 page views per month (BlogHer pays for page views, not clicks). My current monthly page views are higher, but there is a lag between when the ads are viewed and when I am paid. I am sharing these numbers in spite of my qualms because I think you might genuinely be interested.

My point is this – blogging and blog monetization, for most of us, are not a path to riches. It would be lovely if working part-time from home, writing about our daily lives with children, made us the big bucks. Unfortunately, in my experience, that is not realistic. Yes, some bloggers have done it. But they have worked hard to do it, putting in time and effort and facing more setbacks than we probably know. Dooce, for example, started blogging in 2001, and gained notoriety when she was fired because of her blog in 2002. She has been blogging for 9 years. The fact that ‘dooced‘ is now a slang word testifies to the fact that she’s paid her dues.

If blog montetization isn’t a path to financial freedom, why do I do it? Why do I spend hours each week writing this blog and visiting other blogs? First and foremost, I blog because I love it. I love writing, I love reading what other people have to say, and if I’m honest I rather enjoy the attention. This is my creative outlet and my sacred space, and I am not just saying that. Compensation would be icing on the cake, but I relish this cake straight up. I also love the community I’ve found here. If it weren’t for this community I wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to even ask myself what my dreams were, let alone actually pursue them. These are the happy, fuzzy reasons I blog.

There are less happy, altruistic reasons that I blog, too. I believe that while blogging isn’t an end, it can be a means to an end. I want to write, and I want to speak, and I want to teach. My big dream is to help other moms like me, moms who find themselves at a juncture and aren’t sure which way to go. Moms who are struggling to find balance and a space for themselves in their own lives. Moms who are just starting out and feeling overwhelmed and lost and need someone to help them through. Hopefully, I will figure out a way to get paid to follow this dream. In the meantime, this blog is my practice ground. It is a place where I can try things out, it is a place where I can find other people to bounce ideas off of, it is a way to gather an audience and provide information to people who might be interested in hearing what I have to say.

I don’t know how my dreams will turn out. I don’t know what role blogging will or won’t play in where I end up 10 years from now. But I really believe it will play some part, if only because this exercise has changed me. It has helped me to find my voice and find myself. This blog might not be the road to unspeakable fortune, but it doesn’t have to be. And as long as I know that, as long as I’m not counting on a big cheque from my ad network that may never come, I think I’ll be OK.

Now it’s your turn. Have you written a post about blogging? If so, enter the details below. And whether you have or not, go check out these other blogs for some inspiration or helpful advice.

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  1. Blogging is still evolving for me, but I recently read a post by Lindsay at A Design so Vast where she said she writes because she needs to learn what she’s thinking. That struck me as exactly what I do. It’s a place to work it all out, through words, in thinking, and then by sharing and getting feedback. It’s helping me right now, it makes a difference in my day and helps me focus my life better. As always Amber, this has been a great series! Can’t wait to see what’s up for April!

  2. was my first post once I moved from Livejournal to WordPress.
    .-= Caroline´s last post ..Where I’ve Been – Part 7 1/2 =-.

  3. I agree with Christine. I use blogging as a journal, or a place to vent. There isn’t a moment when I feel like I shouldn’t write something. If it’s on my mind, most likely I’ll be posting about it, especially if I feel it’s worth sharing.
    .-= Sara´s last post ..Soapy Business–Almond Soap =-.

  4. Well, if your dream is to win awards, I gave you one today. 🙂
    .-= Nicole´s last post ..A Sunshiney Distraction =-.

  5. Hi Amber, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it seemed to me that one had to be an expert in a specific niche in order to become a blogger. I suppose that I formed that impression because most of the blogs that I visited were technical in nature and provided tutorials, tips, or some other kind of “expert” information. It took a while for me to realize that the only reason that I came across those types of blogs was because that is what I had Googled. Silly me.

    Once I started reading personal blogs, I was drawn in. Being exposed to the stories, insights, and lives of people from all over was a real eye-opener. I began to feel as if I had led an isolated life. I participated by posting comments, but it took a while longer before I began my own blog. The beginning was awkward, as I worked to find my voice, but blogging continues to feel more like a natural activity with each post.

    The level of feedback I receive varies, in terms of numbers, but I appreciate each comment. Since I have so few of them, I can devote oodles of time to my responses. 🙂

    I’ve never written a post specifically about blogging. For me, it’s an activity that I enjoy and it makes me feel connected in ways that I have not felt before.

    It’s way too early for me to have any serious thoughts of monetization. Ask me in a year. Ray
    .-= Ray Colon´s last post ..Can’t Get Right =-.

  6. I wrote my blogging post which coincidentally I was planning on writing anyway.

    I don’t know what I plan for my blog. As far as getting stuff, obviously my reviews blog gives back more in a physical sense but I don’t think I will give up my personal blog any time soon. I like the connections to people and I also hope that those connections may help me sometimes down the road when I actually figure out what it is I want to do with myself beyond being a mom.
    .-= Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves´s last post ..What Will Make Me Read Your Blog Post =-.

  7. Whatever you are doing, it works for me!
    .-= *pol´s last post ..Friendship =-.

  8. How Timely! I am right smack dab in the middle of posting a blog called “Is it a Blog or Is it a Business?” in which I discuss exactly this.

    First let me say THANK YOU A MILLION for sharing your blog stats because I have been DYING to know where I sit. This might actually be my favorite post of yours because of the serious full disclosure you’re displaying here (which is scary, I know.) I am totally shocked that you’re at only 8K page views per month because I thought for sure you got 10 times the traffic I do. I’m sitting at 22K page views this month (which will certainly go back down toward my usual 16K after this perfect-storm-of-Discovery-TV-and-NIH-VBAC-Conference-popularity is over.

    So, you make $25 a month on 8K pageviews, and I don’t have a single freaking ad on my site so I make ZERO dollars. I am clearly not making the money I could be, and that is both so annoying, and yet so enlightening! I’m not interested in getting rich, but if I could just make enough to cover the expense of paying for my server space, etc, then I wouldn’t feel so “guilty” about the money I put into maintaining my stuff.

    NOW – if I could ONLY get BlogHer to let me into the club! I’ve been on their waiting list for a few months now. I wish I’d added myself to the wait list a year ago.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday — VBAC Conference Style =-.

  9. This is really interesting, Amber, because I have been noodling a post like this for a while, thinking about ad revenues and stat sharing. Not sure if I’ll have a chance to do so at my place, but in the name of fair exchange, here’s my info too: I get a little shy of 20K page views each month, and I charge $50 per month for advertisers. I won’t run BlogHer ads because I want more control than they offer — I hand-pick my advertisers because I prefer them to be local and smaller businesses. So far!

    I added my blog post about blogging to your listy-thing above (cool!) but I spend a lot of time blogging about blogging. I’m fascinated by how parent-blogging is evolving — although not always in a good way. Thank goodness there are quality blogs like yours out there!

    I’m not sure what my goal is for the blog — it’s certainly not monitization, but it’s lead to some excellent opportunities. That’s why I don’t bother with BlogHer and those other big conferences — I haven’t figured out what I can get from them that I won’t get elsewhere. Okay, seriously, I really do have to sort out my thoughts and do this on my own blog!!! 😉
    .-= DaniGirl´s last post ..Symphony of Science – The Poetry of Reality =-.

  10. Interesting.

    I blog because I love to write and need a space to work out my thoughts sometimes. I love the feedback and discussion that happens from blogging, which is why I don’t just write in a private journal. I also like sharing my thoughts and opinions. I haven’t been blogging very long, but I doubt I will ever make money from my blog, and I am 100% okay with this- it is not the reason I do this. For me, blogging is therapeutic, relaxing, and gets me into conversations with some really great and interesting people. It teaches me about myself and pushes me to grow.

    I always appreciate how you read and comment on other blogs. It shows that you are genuinely interested in connecting with your readers and the community of bloggers- rather then just trying to make money off a blog. I always find blogs that over promote kind of odd, and it doesn’t always make me want to read them. Promotion is great, but over promotion makes me question a bloggers goals/focus. Somehow it makes it seem less authentic. But that is just me. I think you have struck a balance between promoting without over promoting.
    .-= kathleen´s last post ..The First Birthday =-.

  11. Amber, I love that you are being so real about monetizing and your stats, etc. I do think that in general the idea of making lots of money from a blog is a lot of snake oil somebody’s been trying to sell us. Getting “paid” via free product doesn’t seem like a much more lucrative path and seems to just get in the way for a lot of bloggers who’d much rather just write what they want.

    I find this all so interesting because I have been blogging for nearly 10 years. I started my first blog in either late 2000 or early 2001. At the time it was purely a personal blog about my life and kids. There were so few other mom bloggers out there that every one of the blogs I visited had a nearly identical blogroll! After a few years I began freelancing and was trying to build up a more professional online presence, so I shut down the original blog and toyed with a few other formats over the years…inconsistently at that. I started The Happiest Mom in June and I can honestly say it was the first time I felt like I hit my blogging groove. And it took me ten years to get there! Now, part of the reason it took so long is because I was writing for other outlets all the time, which used up a lot of my best topics and writing mojo. But I also think it just took me this long to really embrace the community. It changed so much over the years that I was confused and I’ll admit, a bit intimidated by all the newcomers and new models and talk of monetizing. But I think I’m finally figuring out where I fit in the grand scheme of things. I don’t ever expect to make a bunch of money from The Happiest Mom, but I’m trying to leverage it for other professional opportunities.

    I’m actually planning to revive the blog at my site so I can start writing about things that interest me but that don’t fall under the “happiest mom” umbrella (home renovations, living sustainably, eating locally, etc).

    Anyway, this has been great food for thought. Thanks for posting it!

  12. Interesting about Blogher and ads. I did a short stint with ads awhile back, but I decided that it’s not worth it right now. I tend to just ignore the emails about them, etc., for now.
    .-= Cold Spaghetti´s last post ..What’s your morning routine? =-.

  13. I think if blogging does turn into a ‘career’ or income source it’s sort of something that has to grow organically out of the experience — I guess you can do certain things to push it that way, but people who start blogging hoping mainly to make money come off as a little — false? desperate? unseemly? I haven’t been blogging long, and it’s given me everything I’ve hoped for — a space to write for a few more people than just myself, a new community, some new friends, and something to do while I watch Lost just distractedly enough to really tick off my friend Collette. 🙂

  14. Great post. As always!
    There so many reasons why we start blogging and then so many reasons why we continue.
    I would love to make money blogging too. I mean, from where I am standing $25 sounds pretty good. 🙂 But there are so many other reasons to do it.
    I am posting about this on the 27th which is when I will have been blogging for one year. I will come and link up my post then.
    .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Maple syrup =-.

  15. Love this post. Love your honesty.

    I don’t write as an outlet or personal diary. My blog was never that. I write to share. I always saw it more as a portal. A place for discussion I hope, a place where people can find cool stuff/info/products/ideas etc. That is mainly because I have never been fully ‘out there’ on my blog – I don’t share pictures of my family, names etc.

    What has been the most surprising evolution in my year of blogging though is that I have started to make it more personal – I’ve put ME out there more than I ever expected to. It’s been a positive side effect, but an unplanned one.

    I am a SAHM first. A blogger second. The fact taht I can do the two simultaneously is an awesome thing – I really love blogging. I love the writing, the researching, the discussing and the community.

    The more I look at it like a mini-business though, the more effort and time I spend on it. I’m not sure if it’s because I ‘legitimize it’ to myself (not that I need to, but putting myself on a schedule etc. gives me a goal, you know?) the more successful and confident I feel in it. If I can make a couple dollars doing it, it’s all the more of a bonus.

    I aspire to be as good of a writer and sharer as you are Amber. Always love your insight.

  16. I know there’s a lot more I could do to become a bigger presence in the parenting blogosphere, and I sometimes have to remind myself that I *choose* not to do it. That I have enough on my plate. However, it doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally feel wistful when I see opportunities come to others. Someday, perhaps! In the meantime, I love the community, love writing and read the stories of others.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Double Indy =-.

  17. I totally intended to write a post on this topic, but I thought I had another week to do so. I still will write it, and link back to your series of posts this month. They’ve all been very interesting, and I actually wish you’d explore the topic more. About blog monetization, seems to me that there is work but also chance behind it, like being fired … do you have an employer who could fire you for blogging:)? (funny enough, I just discovered dooce not very long ago!!)
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Lovely junk =-.

  18. You are pre-selling with your blog and building your people and that is totally worth it! Someday all this effort will pay off. If and when you ever do an ecourse or coaching or something of that sort I’m sure you’ll have a strong client base already. At least…if that is something you want to do. 🙂 Come on, a Crafting My Life e-seminar would rock! You had me at “crafting”. 🙂

    I blog just for fun, to have a little home on the web and somewhere to direct people to.
    .-= AmberDusick´s last post ..Random Stuff Going On =-.

  19. I just started blogging about a week and a half ago. I look at it as a way of sharing my ideas with others and a way for me to express my feelings about topics that I feel passionately about. Also…I think it will be fun to look back at it 10 years from now, or even 20!

  20. I love this post, Amber! Fantastic. And I loved reading all the responses too. It is always interesting to hear others’ perspectives.

    I truly admire those with direction and focus in their blogs. Because I have neither. I’ve been blogging for five years, and I’m all over the map. Depends where I am mentally at the time (hence, I am writing about going back to work now b/c I am so freaking worried about going back to work!!) and what’s going on in my life. I had dreams of making money with my blog, because I had hoped it would mean I could continue to stay home with my three children. I am slowly learning that the blog is MINE. I can write about what I want and not have to feel any sense of responsibility to anyone else.

    Most recently I have found my blog to be a wonderful outlet for my creativity and writing. I can do whatever I want there. I may never get my novel published, but I feel free to write whatever I want on my blog 🙂

    I wish I had had time this week to add a post to this series, but things were totally crazy and I wasn’t able to get it done.
    .-= A Crafty Mom´s last post ..Cleared the First Hurdle =-.

  21. Thanks for such a great article Amber.

    I just went and checked and I’m getting over 6 thousand page views a month which I pleasantly surprised by.

    I’d like to start thinking about some ads, but I’ve got myself squeezing out a baby and helping dh get his business up and running.

    I’ve always looked at my blog as an experiment. It’s my first experience with all of this. I also look at it as building a community. I loved reading Seth Godin’s “Tribes”. I’m less trying to make money with blogging as I’m using blogging to create an audience that then supports future endeavors.

    I’m really thankful to have found you out here in the wild and crazy world o’ blogging 😉

  22. Well, go, you.

    I think blogging could be the path to dreams for a lot of people, because the internet has changed the entertainment world so much. And if that means more women’s voices get heard without being edited out/dumbed down/etc then I say Yay to that.

    For myself, I don’t know. I’m still not sure how I feel about blogging. I started this one on a whim because I wanted to try it out and see if I like it. I’m still on the fence. I don’t really have the time to put into creating a decent blogging community around myself, (you know, the recipicral reading and commenting on other’s blogs) which does seem to be a big part of blogging.

    On the other hand, there are things I just have to say sometimes. Blog’s good for that shizz.

  23. And another thing. I have mixed feelings about bloggers becoming stars – I hope that it’s not to the detriment of all the other voices out there. Right now it’s so interesting that there’s so many diverse bloggers, hopefully the internet stays free and open.
    .-= Kate´s last post ..tears =-.

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