Inspirational Blogging Wealth Articles Can Ruin New Writers

Set realistic financial expectations to have a long, successful blogging career.


Madelyn Brown

3 years ago | 6 min read

You love words. You have a knack for putting them in a certain special order to express ideas and build strong narratives. You can harness this superpower to make millions.

From the beach, from the bar, you can earn passive income even if you end up spending a weekend in a holding cell. You could be a successful blogger, just commit to it.

I can’t even make it through half a scroll without coming across these fantastical, inspirational articles about making millions from blogging. They are everywhere, selling the dream of liberation from a capitalist society through the typed word.

Hocking the fantasy that we can chuck the oppressive 9-to-5 schedule in favor of a life driven by the whimsy of our word muses (and the muse prefers the hours of 10–11 a.m. and 2–3 a.m.). Bartering our clicks for an empty promise of success by honoring the written word with vague guidance like, don’t give up.

I’m sick of it.

These articles are cheesy, and yet we keep reading them. Ultimately, our clicks are the engine that keeps this machine of empty, unhelpful content running.

This is my spiteful reply. Our human psychology is wired for optimism bias—to click and believe that we are among the special few who can reach financial freedom through blogging.

However, the current blogging data shows how these “Make Six Figures a Year Blogging” articles set writers on a nonexistent path, dooming the blogger to inevitable burn-out in pursuit of an unachievable standard. Instead of dangling fake millions just out of reach, let’s promote realistic standards and financial expectations for new writers.

The Fallacy of a Magical Blog Success Strategy

For those that wish to give these scummy authors the benefit of the doubt, at the very least they’re causing unintended harm through fundamental attribution error. This is a phenomenon the Harvard Business Review describes as a fallacious tendency of the successful.

“When we succeed, we’re likely to conclude that our talents and our current model or strategy are the reasons,” writes Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano.

When these few successful people try to sell their method or strategy to the masses of bloggers, it suggests that their path is a one-size-fits-all method that can be taught and replicated endlessly.

In reality, personal failure cannot be skipped over or bought out. Even if a blogger buys that e-course for $1,000, it doesn’t pay off the requirement of failing and making wrong decisions on the path to success.

This is how we hone our personal expertise in our niche. Failure and mistakes are critical lessons.

Further, promoting the earnings of the top bloggers while stifling the stories of blogging masses is lying by omission. While lying is bad, it’s not the reason these “How to Become a Millionaire by 26 with Just Your Words” articles are especially heinous.

The unethical component comes into play because blogging success authors are banking on the desperate, hopeful, beginner writers to give them a click and some cash return. And that’s where their motivation begins and ends. These articles are not written for the benefit of the reader.

Some of the most insidious of these authors will place a call-to-action at the end of the blog, suggesting that the reader buy their e-course on blogging so they too can be on the track to making $100k/week.

Unrealistic Expectations Can Doom a New Blogger

“Expectations are premeditated resentments” — unnkown

The cornier among us may believe, “If you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” inspirational drivel.

But the fate of a blogger failing to meet their own expectations (however delusional) is not as stellar.

When average bloggers have a prolonged exposure and awareness to the hyper success of the top 1% and are largely unaware of the data regarding the rest of the blogging world, it sets a narrative divorced from reality, an expectation that is nearly impossible to fulfill.

And when their bank account doesn’t start tripling in size after months of researching, writing, and sacrificing all other areas of our lives, they begin to self criticize.

They know it can’t be the blogging system because they have read the stories of millionaire bloggers. So it must be a personal problem. They double down, write more, skip dinner, break up with their partner (too much of a time commitment).

Hopefully, the consequences don’t go that far, and the blogger simply lets their blog peter out and become another neglected graveyard site. A burnt-out writer sends their written words to blog hades to die.

Analyzing Blogging Data in 2020

Here are a few stats of note:

  • There are over 600 million active blogs globally in 2020 (from Growth Badger)
  • Nearly 32 million people in the U.S. are bloggers. That means one out of 10 people in the U.S. has some sort of blog, and that number includes babies.
  • According to one survey conducted in 2015, the majority of bloggers (57%) earned less than $2,500/year from their blog.
  • The majority (62%) also regularly earned less than $500/month.

These stats make sense. The internet is beautiful because it gives everyone the opportunity to have a voice. The downside is that the murmur of a new blog will more than likely be hushed out by the shout of established, successful voices.

That being said, all hope is not lost. Blogging is still a viable option for word lovers and storytellers to cushion their income. I view it as one of several income streams.

The important takeaway is to set realistic expectations and to ignore the siren’s song of the “How to Earn Enough Money to Pay for Your First McMansion Turbo Yacht in Cash” articles.

Reasonable Blogging Income Expectations

For more than a decade, my entire income has come from writing. I was a journalist for the Department of Defense for seven years. When my daughter was born, I turned to freelance writing and editing. I have written for national print magazines and many digital publications, and I edit for several consulting and media firms.

I recently returned to Medium because I would like to resuscitate this blog as one of my streams of income. I see it as a supplement to my other rivulets of cash flow.

And, I am starting humbly. For the first year, my goal is to make $2,000 off of this blog. I expect there to be many stumbling steps as I get reacquainted, and I plan to write about my milestones along the way.

When seeking out bloggers to emulate, look to people who are providing transparent, concrete advice.

The excellent Medium writer, Zulie Rane, is one such writer that can help the rest of the community set realistic expectations. She recently wrote an article about the 507 articles she wrote in the past two years on Medium and the resulting $30k she earned. This writer wrote. Frequently.

I already know that my schedule will not allow for 507 published articles in the next two years, so I won’t punish myself with that expectation.

But her content has been helpful in portraying the amount of work it takes to add thousands to an income. Her YouTube channel is also an excellent resource for a simple explanation of all things Medium without any distracting fanfare.

Itxy Lopez is another writer who has detailed her 14-month writing journey on Medium and the earnings growth from 39 cents to more than $200.00/month.

Jason Weiland, a veteran blogger of more than 20 years, also wrote an insightful Medium post on how these scammy articles started circulating. His honesty as an expert in the field is a refreshing look at a way forward in authentic blogging.

This article’s intent is not to dissuade anyone from blogging. You may be the fraction of a percent that ascends to the top levels of the blogosphere (someone has to, right?).

For the rest of us, hopefully, this saves some disillusionment and helps a few find their most moderate, attainable financial blogging goals.


Created by

Madelyn Brown







Related Articles