How to go to Harvard, have awesome sex, and be a billionaire before your twentieth birthday
Say it with me people: “Click Bait.” Yep, that title exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to pull you into an article and perhaps get you to buy something (well, not this article, but you get my point). Here’s the really sad thing, though: I made that title ironically. Why, might you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple.
Today, I want to talk to you about what’s really behind all those personal finance blogger. More accurately, I want to talk to you about what they post, how much money they make, and where that money comes from.
So buckle up, buttercups: Daddy’s going on a rant today.
Why this is top of mind for me
If you’re reading this, you’re one of two people: you’re either really into personal finance, or you’re really into blogging. And while blogging has taught me a lot about various topics (SEO, design, how the whole freaking internet works), there has been some interesting side effects to it. One of which is the fact that I am INUNDATED ON A DAILY BASIS BY ADS/BLOGGERS TELLING ME HOW GREAT THEIR LIFE IS AND HOW I NEED TO BUY THEIR PRODUCT!
It’s literally every day. “Are you sick of not getting enough traffic?” “Are you tired of running a blog that seems to go nowhere?” “Do you know what it takes to get into a Top MBA program?” “Learn my simple 3-step system that took me from $2.37 in my bank account to having nothing but cars, women, and money. Oh, and a pet tiger.”
Now, I’m heavily contrarian by nature (which is the nice way of saying I’m a cynical S.O.B.), so when I see these different ads or articles, I always find myself wondering, really? Really?! REALLY?! All I need to do is read these 5 books you recommend and I’m going to have everything I want ever?
Here’s my issue
If you ever get the chance, I suggest checking out The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. There are parts of the book I like, which mostly involve the “lifestyle design” part; the fact that you can have the life you want, and you don’t have to be a slave to your job. However, one of the main criticisms of the book is that the only person that can actually have a “four-hour work week” is Tim Ferriss because he’s the only one who has created the product teaching you how to do so. It’s almost like the “chicken/egg” paradox.
And Tim isn’t the only one that has this going. Another example: anyone that ever posts about their trading system/writes about how profitable trading is. The simple logic is as follows: if their system/book is so great, then why are they selling it as opposed to just using their system? Sure, you can say, “Diversifying income” or some B.S. along those lines, but let’s call it out for what it is:
PEOPLE ARE GOING TO TRY TO SELL YOU CRAP ALL THE TIME
And it’s super annoying! Here’s another example from the wide world of blogging:
The blogging pyramid scheme
I started this blog for two reasons: I wanted to actually provide solid financial advice (not, “Just use coupons and live with your parents!”) and I wanted to use this site as a (small) source of income. After all, I had read income report after income report telling me how after 8 months these bloggers were making $1,000 , $5,000 , $10,000 a month! And I thought to myself, “Well golly, if they can do it, is there any reason that I can’t?”
And so I started my site, did what all the articles told me to do (focus on content, SEO, social media, etc.) and I started to realize that NONE OF THIS ACTUALLY WORKED!
And it was so frustrating, because all these bloggers made it look so easy. And I kept reading report after report, post after post, until I felt like my head was about to fall off. And then, it finally dawned on me.
Yes, all of these bloggers are happy to share their REVENUES with the world. But you know what I rarely, if ever, see?
As a business major, I should have been MUCH more aware as I was reading these blogs, but my dreams of internet entrepreneurship got the better of me. Here’s the list of expenses that few, if any bloggers, EVER talk about!
- Hosting – depends, but can run $100’s per year
- Site theme – mine was $60.
- Social Media Management – I pay for Hootsuite and Boardbooster for my social media accounts.
- Design – Logo/pinterest/website. Can’t even give you a good number for this.
- Email marketing tools – another $30-$100 a month.
- Landing pages – There are tools to increase conversions on landing pages.
- Actual Hardware – Can’t blog without a computer.
- Other software – take your pick, there’s tons of blogging software out there to solve problems bloggers didn’t even know they had.
- Taxes – I’ve literally only ever read one income report that actually talks about putting money aside for taxes.
… and so on and so forth. And while a lot of these are great tools, here’s the part that really grinds my gears. I know I’m opening a can of worms here, but if you really want to make money blogging…
… THEN YOU HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT BLOGGING.
And there, dear reader, lies the pyramid scheme. If you really want to make money blogging, you’ve got to write about blogging and what a great income source it is. Here’s my evidence:
- Pat Flynn from smartpassiveincome.com, has some awesome websites and calls himself the “Crash Test Dummy” of online businesses. Now, he’s proven himself time and time again; I’m in no way saying this guy is a fraud. But check out his income reports, and look at what percentage of his income comes from Bluehost’s affiliate program. He’s routinely making $30,000 – $50,000 through Bluehost alone. He’s making a great living off telling people to start blogs.
- Almost 25% of pinchofyum.com affiliate income came from Bluehost.
- Look through Michelle’s income report at Makingsenseofcents.com. How much of her income actually comes from personal finance companies? Not much. But Convertkit, Bluehost, affiliate for a Facebook and writing course? THAT (and her course on how to do affiliate marketing) is where she’s making a vast majority of her $$$.
And this goes on and on and on. But here’s the real kicker: How the hell are you supposed to start a blog about blogging if you’ve just started blogging? By definition you’re NOT an expert, otherwise you already would have a blog?
Isn’t that just a pickle?
So now we’ve established that the most common way to make money online is by telling people how to make money online. I won’t say it’s the easiest, but you can’t argue with hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean, you can try…
Why I’m starting to get frustrated
Maybe I should be taking a, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” sort of mentality. Not that I’m trying to beat other bloggers in terms of monetizing, but it’s hard to see these Facebook ads/income reports/traffic reports and see all this success that everyone seems to be having. And a lot of these huge blogs that used to be dedicated to personal finance or building online business really seem to be about selling you tools to “make money” as opposed to really giving you hard core financial advice.
Who knows, maybe I really am in the wrong business?…
But the reason I gave this article a super click-baity title is to make you realize, dear reader, that very often things aren’t as they appear on the internet. That cute couple didn’t retire by 35 just by using coupons. That finance blogger didn’t make his/her first million dollars by “smart investing”. That online marketer that only talks about online marketing might not be the expert that his fancy website would lend you to believe.
Take everything with a grain of salt, my friends.
How to get into Harvard, have awesome sex, and be a billionaire before your twentieth birthday – The Wrap Up
Yeah, I click-baited the crap out of you. Sorry about that. But if that means that you read those fancy blogger’s income reports with a little bit more scrutiny, then perhaps I’ve done my job. After all, if you really spend the time to look, more often then not there really is a man behind the curtain.
So what are your thoughts? What blogs do you read that are well monetized that don’t peddle some tool to make money on line? Food niche? Personal Finance? Fitness? Lifestyle? I want to know people; please prove me wrong and show me there are websites out there that make money without telling people to start a blog.
I lay that challenge at your feet.
For less depressing content from The Code To Riches, check out:
- The Seven Steps to Avoid Being a Money Moron
- The 7 Vegetarian Meals That Are Saving My Budget
- How Much Is Half A Million Dollars?
- The 10 Best Finance Books Money Can Buy
- 9 Credit Score Hacks You Must Know
- Why I Never Want To Retire
- The Laziest Way to Riches – Investing In Index Funds
- Budgeting Basics – Allocating $$$ Like A Boss
- Fuck You, Frugality
- Why A Million Budgeting Tips Will Never Be Enough
Keep trying to crack the code,
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