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Blogging: an easy route to riches and early retirement?

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Published: 12 February 2020

By Senior Lecturer Alan Charlesworth, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism

Route? Yes; well ... maybe.

Easy? No; well, actually absolutely most definitely not.

A quick search on the internet will unearth any amount of articles suggesting 10-ways-to-earn-a-zillion-dollars-an-hour-by-blogging. They will include such sage advice as:

* Put – that is, sell – ads on your blog
* Get a sponsor
* Be an affiliate marketer
* Charge a membership fee
* Sell your blog

That’s not 10 ... but you get the picture. And it is true that these are methods of earning money from a blog. However, there are a couple of teensy weensy issues to address before you reach that stage.

The first is that to earn money you need readers for your blog. Lots of readers. But none of the 10-ways-to-earn-a-zillion-dollars-an-hour-by-blogging articles tell you how to get those readers. Sorry, but the ‘build it and they will come’ approach simply doesn’t work. I know, I know, that might be a bit of a shock to you ... but it doesn’t. Okay, if you’re President of the United States of America or a successful sports/movie/music/TV star or successful presenter, they might come when it’s built. Otherwise, forget it.

Chronologically, the second issue predates the reader problem – though it might actually be an answer to that problem. You see, you need to be able to write stuff that people need or want to read. That means you have to (a) come up with ideas for content, and (b) actually be able to write that content.

Take me as an example; for issue (a) ... I know a fair bit about digital marketing – so there’s a bus load of subject areas for me to write about. For issue (b) ... there are many things I can’t do (e.g. mathematical equations) and many things I can do, but not very well (e.g. play snooker), but I’m sort-of half-decent at writing. I also have books published around the world, which makes me sort-of famous in my own field. I also know a bit about how to get users to visit a website. So aren’t I a poster child (poster more mature person?) candidate for earning-a-zillion-dollars-an-hour-by-blogging?

Well ... the footer to this blog entry (yes, I get the irony) says I’m a Senior Lecturer at Sunderland Business School. It does not say I’ve retired to my private villa somewhere in the Seychelles. Make of that what you will.

If you have not already realised, I’ve used blogs as an example in this piece – but the same would apply if you were to do a search-and-replace on blog with vlog, podcast, webinar, website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram post ... and so on and so forth.

Postscript: I have a blog. It’s read by more people than the majority of blogs – but that is still not enough for it to be worth my while ‘selling out’ and commercializing it. However, if you know someone who wants to sponsor it for a zillion dollars ...


Alan Charlesworth is a Senior Lecturer and has been involved in what is now referred to as digital marketing as a practitioner, consultant, writer, trainer and educator since 1996. Alan also writes about and consults on the phenomenon commonly known as the Digital Transformation, a subject that transcends marketing into all aspects of business and management. Read more about his teaching and research interests and studying Business and Management at the University of Sunderland.   

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