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The Real Reason You Should Be Blogging

by AJ Walton

Having experienced the highs and the lows of backpacking around Europe and Asia and living in 3 different countries these last 2 years, I am not easily shocked.

But it never ceases to amaze me the number of blogs trying to get people to pay for blogging advice.

With a premise that, if successful, their blog could pay for something like unlimited world travel.

The personalities are always different, but the line is always a variation of:

Does the idea of unlimited travel, freedom, the ability to work as much or little as you want, and follow your passion sound good to you?

Then have I got an offer for you!

Blogging for Dollars™

The internet’s billion-dollar secret.

And what’s more – it’s easy.

Just a click click here and a click click here. Several mashes of the keyboard with your palm, fist, or forehead (hey, we’re artists now!) and BOOM. Internet monies directly into your laptop!

To which I think, “Shit. If only I’d have thought of that, I could be traveling the world right now. Oh wait…”

And then I feel sad.

You know why I feel sad?

Because this idea is soooo prevalent that it’s actively preventing perfectly capable folks from actually getting out there and doing whatever it is their dream is.

I get it, we live in money-culture. But we’ve been collectively brainwashed into thinking that we are powerless without money.

So instead of doing something important, like writing our book, traveling the world, or installing solar panels in Uganda, we search for ways to make some extra cash (with which to fund our book writing, travel, or solar related adventures).

In the past, we could always rely on a good pyramid scheme or Nigerian prince to come to our rescue. Today these are far more rare.

Today, blogging has a sexiness factor that most Nigerian princes can only dream of. In fact, rumor has it that several Nigerian princes have changed their business card to say “pro blogger” in stead of their stately titles.

The Truth About Blogging For Dollars

In this wild and rapidly changing world we live in, there are only a handful of recommendations I can wholeheartedly stand by: Vaccinate your children. Be kind to animals. Don’t blog to make money.

Over 150 million people are trying that and practically everyone is failing miserably at it. It’s got about the same success rate as working for a pyramid scheme multi-level-marketing company. Shameful, right?

I’m not saying you can’t do it, but…

No, scratch that. I’m saying you can’t.

Don’t take that as an insult. It has almost nothing to do with ability or determination, but rather mathematical fact.

There is a finite amount of attention and money to be spread around the blogosphere (or MLMsphere, or any other money making spheres) and it’s far from being evenly distributed.

Kind of like hanging our hopes and dreams on becoming a football superstar is – for well over 99% of the population – delusional. So is a dream of blogging stardom.

Now, a lot of my collegues in the blogging world will take issue with my negative attitude cool rationality.

But I think if we each had truly unlimited potential, then we’re the biggest group of underachievers conceivable. Unstoppable power — and about 1 billion of us without clean water to drink? You need to travel more if you believe this nonsense.

No, I rather think we’re a wonderfully limited little species that’s doing a pretty fine job, all things considered.

I’m not here to be a downer, I’m here to show you how things really work and empower you to do something that will work for you instead of for the people most interested in the contents of your wallet.

I make my money in the real world. I blog to change it.

And just to be clear that my motivations aren’t more “pure” than people who blog for money, I decidedly want the prestigue and sense of importance that’ll come with making an impact for a large group of people. It just so happens that this drives me harder than the ability to buy fancy toys does.

To each their own.

But this gives me an advantage – I don’t have to care if this site makes a dime, so I can dish the straight truth – in so far as I can see it.

Our Limitations, And Where Our Power Truly Lies

A strange taboo has developed in the advice world – in that we’re no longer allowed to accept some fundamental realities about individual limitations.

This has, unfortunately, cost the good-intentioned public millions of hours and billions of dollars chasing after the golden unicorn of easy internet billions.

Might as well buy a lottery ticket. (Please, don’t do that.)

Books like the 4 Hour Work Week and Rich Dad, Poor Dad continue to sell the dream. It’s become an ingrained part of the culture at this point that a conventional job just ain’t good enough.

While I don’t completely disagree with this (I love 4HWW, even though I doubt Tim has worked a 4 hour week in his life.) – I’ve never had a real career and now have been traveling for the last year and a half – this modern zeitgeist is predicated on the logical flaw that we need to make a lot of money from a personal business in order to achieve this dream of fulfillment, freedom, or whatever particular fantasy we favor.

There are a ton of people taking advantage of this. I remember seeing an interview about a guy who moved to Thailand and then made a living teaching people how to quit their jobs and start a successful business, maybe even move to Thailand…

Am I the only one that finds this logic fucked right the hell up?

If not, please, buy my $1000 info product. Before the price goes up. Pretty please?

Here’s the problem:

All of us are subject to a mental bias called: “Illusory superiority or the Lake Wobegone effect, so called after a fictional town created by broadcaster Garrison Keillor where, “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

This bias shows that people, in general, overestimate their abilities relative to others, whether it’s driving ability, IQ, leadership skills, or chances of surviving a deadly illness – people, as a general rule, think they’re the exception and not the norm.

This of course, is impossible.

So when a guru peddels their miracle money making advice – even the well meaning ones – we’re inclined to think that even if it’s an unlikely opportunity, we of all people could make it work.

But the problem isn’t just one of talent, it’s of math.

There’s a limit pool of attention/time/money that’s distributed between every blog and business. And most of it’s already accounted for by established players.

So what to do?

I’ll tell you what most people do. Most people try to be the statistical exception – the equivalent of winning an Olympic gold medal, and waste an inordinate amount of time and money doing so. A small few succeed, which only helps perpetuate the system by providing “inspiration” to the masses that didn’t have the right combo of timing, skill, and luck.

Oh yeah, in one of his books (forget which one, I’ve read a ton), Richard Branson gives luck as one of his 3 key elements to success. You know, the guy pioneering space tourism. So this isn’t just me ranting, I’ve got the coolest mega-billionaire in my corner.

Other people give up. This is only slightly less depressing than wasting decades in futility.

Finally, a tiny group of people give the finger to all the hocus pocus going on and start living their dreams and creating their most beautiful work for the world now.

This is the group I aspire to be in. And every day I’m getting closer.

You don’t need my permission, but I’m going to give it anyway since the vast majority of the messages we receive are of a contradictory variety:

You don’t have to make a single dime from your passion, your talent, or your dream.

You do, however, have to start living it.

You have to stop spending your free time and energy on entertainment, and start investing it in what you do best and/or love most.

  • Do it to change the world, do it to leave a legacy, do it just because it fills you with a sense of euphoria.
  • Do it. Because nobody lays on their deathbed and thinks about all the wonderful stuff they bought.
  • Do it. Because Call Me Maybe is far from the pinnacle of human musical achievement. Because our airways deserve better.
  • Do it to help emancipate others from the fear and doubt they have about stepping outside the lines and doing something extraordinary.

That’s a rebellion worth starting and one worth fighting for.

And that’s why you need to be blogging.

Because we desperately need more people who are showing off their crazy, chaotic, creative lives and lifestyles and not just feeding into the “make money online and solve all your problems” propoganda machine.

Change isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. It’s a slow, ardous struggle that requires massive time, energy, and committment.

And the first things that change are our ideas and attitudes.

For that to happpen, we need volume! As the Asch Conformity Experiments and others have shown, we will change our minds and our behavior for better or worse with a sufficient volume of external pressure.

In this case we’re talking positive peer pressure at it’s finest.

Consider for example that in between monolithic construction projects, the United Arab Emirates first gave women the vote in 2006. As crazy as that sounds, just imagine how things would be different had they not had the rest of the globe (minus Saudi Arabia) to look over at as an example.

Every voice on the side of human emancipation and progress counts.

Freedom of expression and creation are a part of that.

Add yours to it.

Reading this next: The $1 Million Charity Water Challenge: Changing the World, One Blog Post At a Time

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

lisa thomson-the great escape January 24, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Ah, YES! Love this, AJ. There are so many ‘make money blogging’ blogs—I thought maybe I was missing something. I never started to blog for money. I started to blog to promote and gain exposure for my first book. I’m a nobody author, right so I had to blog. Now, I blog for the joy of it. Freedom of expression and creativity are the most important things in the world, to keep us sane. I recently took down a series of written works on my blog for fear of being sued (by my family) so freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. :) Awesome post!!

Reply

AJ Walton January 24, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Thanks for the feedback Lisa!

I totally feel you about the freedom to express ourselves, even for no external gain, but to fulfill an internal desire — and definitely to stay sane haha.

I think that’s an interesting motivation you had – book promotion. Did you find that it was a successful means of self promotion? My own longer-term goal, my charity project aside, has to do with travel and maybe hooking up with Lonely Planet or something. I’d be interested to hear about your experiences promoting your own writing.

And gee, rough having to worry about getting into a lawsuit with the fam. Hope it all works out for you and that you’ll be free to use your work in some other way!

Reply

lisa thomson-the great escape January 28, 2015 at 6:08 am

Thanks, AJ!

Reply

Ando Mierzwa January 26, 2015 at 4:36 am

Epic post, AJ!!

Before the internet, I used to hang out in libraries and bookstores. So much to learn! So many people to meet!

Today, I hang out online… the world’s greatest library!

I view each blogger as another book. Another person to connect with. Another story to learn from. Another point of view to consider.

When the haters say blogging is narcissistic and self-indulgent, I say, “So what?” The more you share of yourself, the more likely you are of connecting with someone out there who understands your brand of crazy. The more blogs, the better.

Thanks to blogs, no one has to move through life’s ups or downs alone. How beautiful is that?

If money comes from making your donation to the world’s greatest library, so be it. If it doesn’t, I’d say just taking part is still rewarding beyond words.

Keep smiling! And writing! :)

Reply

AJ Walton January 26, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Hey Ando!
Thanks so much for sharing your perspective! I think you’re absolutely right, in that the project is a success just by contributing to the “world’s greatest library” (love the phrase by the way, hope you won’t mind if I borrow it!).

I find it so fascinating how each blogger combines their own experiences in ways that create something we can relate to as fellow human beings, yet totally unique.

Beautiful indeed!
Thanks for stopping by! :D

Reply

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 28, 2015 at 3:39 am

Hi AJ, Thanks for sharing your refreshingly interesting view of blogging. I share your view, I blog for good, not money, but I realize that many other people don’t have that luxury. They have to earn a living and many are constrained by circumstances that force them to do that online.

They may not be scamming anyone, they may really believe in what they have to sell. But their road is a difficult one.

So many things are given away for free. Imagine if we have to pay a penny every time we performed a Google search. One penny isn’t a lot but we still probably wouldn’t pay. Or perform as many searches.

Figuring out how to make money on the Internet is a gargantuan task that has felled many companies. I’m glad I don’t have to do that.

I agree, the human race is doing pretty well. Thanks for the reminder of that. We need to be reminded of that every so often.

Reply

AJ Walton January 28, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Hi Carolyn,
Thanks for sharing your perspective.

You make a really good point. Those of us who aren’t in a position of financial security have a different set of conditions to manage.

However, for these people, I would recommend blogging as a middle-long term option, not a desperation resource for quick gains. The chances of success are simply SO low that it’s not going to be reliable (then again, if eliminating poverty was easy, we’d have a different world). Freelancing on oDesk — which has implemented a minimum wage, $3 I think now — or eLance would probably be a better bet – though admittedly the competition is tough at entry level jobs.

Agreed, making money on the net is tough, and keeping up in the arms race with new tech/apps etc must be a nightmare for big companies. Heck, I don’t know how you manage it as a blogger :D

Thanks again for stopping by, see you on WonderOfTech!
-AJ

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Steven J Wilson January 28, 2015 at 10:11 am

Ah AJ,

I see you tell it like it is huh :)

Blogging for money was the biggest mistake I made when I first tried blogging years ago. At that time I was one of the ones that came and went in a couple months.

My focus was all off and thinking I could start making money sooner than later was no good.

That may work for some folk but I prefer to blog and have people really dive in to my content and appreciate my ideas etc.

Nice post Aj!

Reply

AJ Walton January 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hey Steven,
Thanks for chiming in.

I was in the same boat as you back in 2011. I actually had some good luck with a few SEO articles that pulled in some AdSense revenues, but even that couldn’t hold my focus. Bland, passionless button pushing it felt like. Why not flip burgers? Needless to say I didn’t stick with it.

The most gratifying thing about blogging now is the interaction with people. People who “dive into my content” as you say. Where the ideas really mean something.

See you around on highpowerseo Steven :D

Reply

Nikshep January 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

Hey AJ :)

Lemme be brutally honest! I blog due to extremely selfish reasons :) Of course my purpose is to inspire others stumble upon wisdom and flashes of insight! But I never fool myself my saying I am not satisfying my own needs by blogging!

For me, Blogging keeps me on my feet, my mind active and focus razor sharp. I keep thinking of new ideas, angles and connections which help me lead a much more fulfilling life than people who just wait for things to happen to them.

It is the process of Blogging itself which is so gratifying that as Ayn Rand’s hero Howard Roark says (somewhat sumgly ) “But you see, I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards–and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”

This is how I feel about Blogging :) Thanks for writing this, it was a joyous read!
Cheers,
Nik

Reply

AJ Walton January 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm

Great quote Nik, and thanks so much for popping in :D

The pure satisfaction of creation is one of the simpelest and yet mst profound joys I feel there is to be had. I’ve been blessed enough to feel this as a guitarist and a writer, and fortunately such majesty can be discovered in any field in which we love to work!

Great reasons to blog. I’m all with you on that. It almost forces us to a new level of excellence, and surely is a great way to inspire new ideas and ways of seeing the world.
All the best my friend,
AJ

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Ahsan January 30, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Hello AJ Walton,

Nowadays blogging is challenging work. It needs dedication, discipline & punctuality. Some bloggers start blogging thinking there’s lots of money in it without any knowledge. But after some time they understand blogging takes hard work at the begining.

I think if we love blogging, then we’ll surely find success. I think new bloggers will be benifited from your article. Happy Blogging

Reply

AJ Walton January 30, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Hey Ahsan,
I can tell that you, my friend, enjoy blogging. Indeed, it can be a bit of a shock to realize that publishing doesn’t equal traffic and traffic doesn’t equal revenue. There’s a ton of nuance.

Thanks for chiming in!

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Micah February 6, 2015 at 1:49 pm

‘There is a finite amount of attention and money to be spread around the blogosphere.’

This is so true. I always find it a bit strange when people seem to be focused on blogging to specifically make money. The experience of trying to add value one way or another to readers is a far more gratifying thing. Don’t get me wrong, money is a cool thing, but by its very nature it’s a means, so I always find it a bit weird and icky when it seems to become an end.

On another note that illusory superiority bias you mentioned sounds like an interesting one. Will have to read up more on it and hope I don’t fall into its evil clutches. Cool post.

Reply

AJ Walton February 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Hi Micah,

I agree with you that it becomes weird/icky as an end.

I think that there’s money to be made if we focus first on making an impact on people. It might be an indirect result, but the blogging experience can open up so many other opportunities too.

It’s clear that not everyone can make decent money online – however, I think anyone who makes an effort to share there message with others can make an impact online. That’s something that does scale – at least in my mind.

Thanks for taking the time to drop a line here!

Reply

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