Today in “Asked and Answered”

Asked (vai Moneyville):  Is blogging a ticket to easy money?

Answered:  no.

Next question.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. john personna says:

    Well, it’s a long-tail distribution. There are certainly stars.

    There are some interesting stories of youtube income streams as well.

  2. @john personna: Well, the question wasn’t “can blogging make money” it was about “easy money.”

    Different propositions, those.

  3. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There are easy money slots in those successes.

    IIRC a guy got good google rank for “how to tie a windsor” on youtube, placed ads, and now has a very easy income stream.

    The easy slots tend to be the new openings though, and not the “me toos” that try to slug it out to no avail.

    If someone wants to make money now, they should probably be shrewd, and if possible jump on something new (gamble on something new) before it takes off.

  4. @john personna: Well, by that assessment, there is “easy money” in almost all endeavors: just find something that will be successful and one will get easy money.

    Easy peasy!

  5. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Tech has certainly had a chain of easy money ventures. There are key moments when a small improvement trips to large market share. The programming behind twitter was stupid and easy, but it tripped to millions of users.

    Similarly, gadget blogs were not hard work (not digging ditches) but tripped to very large reader shares.

    Is that really true in static industries? In “almost all endeavors?”

    Maybe you need some meta-analysis on what makes this medium different from those static, and with long lived and established dominances.

  6. @john personna: No, I just find your response to be simplistic. It is one thing to say that there are opportunities to make money online, some of which are “easy” and yet another to say “blogging is a ticket to easy money.”

    There is a difference between “opportunities” and “easy money.”

    Further, you are taking “blogging” and expanding it to tech in general.

    Having been at this blogging thing for almost a decade (and having made some money at it along the way), I think I have some standing to assess whether or not it is a source of “easy money.”

  7. Is blogging a ticket to easy money?

    Silly question.

    Everyone knows you go into it for the alcohol and the women.

    (And, yes, I’m kidding)

  8. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I retired at 45, and perhaps that makes me overconfident in such analysis.


  9. @john personna:


    Yes, but that’s rather the point, isn’t it?

    That one can be successful, indeed very successful in some cases, doesn’t make it “easy” nor does it mean that it will be easy for everyone.

  10. JKB says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Ah man, I wanted you to tell us about the chicks. But no money for nothin’ and no chicks for free? That’s terrible. We should occupy something.

  11. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Don’t ignore my main point, that it is effort and placement.

    It would be really bad, say, to commit effort the the horribly overpopulated field of political opinion, and then expect success to be easy.

    Just curious, if you do consider ROI, how seriously did you consider the placement of your effort as part of that?

  12. @john personna: Certainly if one can find an under-served demand and provide for that demand, one can make money (often quite a bit of it).

    I just question the degree to which it is “easy.”

    Indeed, does not your initial observation about the long tail underscore that it isn’t easy?

  13. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, when you said “easy” I thought in terms of effort. Certainly we have examples of (very) high earning blogs which started as individual efforts. I can’t think that LifeHacker, Nick Denton $60,000 per month, is killing himself with the effort. The blog just isn’t that good. Many people post much more for much less.

    So, I’d stipulate that you can’t make easy money at stupid or ill-timed business plans, but with the right business plan for the times, yes, it can still be easy.

  14. @john personna: I suppose any number of actions that lead to a payday can require limited effort. That isn’t how I interpret a question like “Is blogging a ticket to easy money?”

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Damn Doug! There you go again, bursting my bubble.

  16. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We’ve identified that one can not indiscriminately make easy money, but that in some cases people do, either by luck or conscious placement of effort.

    To reduce that to “no”, “asked and answered” certainly hides more than it reveals.

    You’d be better of with “sometimes yes, but work smart if you are going to work lazy.”

  17. @john personna: There is also the issue to it being “a ticket” which implies holding the ticket translates into reaching a promise destination.

    As such, does blogging guarantee easy money? No.

    The question was not: “Can blogging lead to easy money?”

    Plus, it strikes me an self-evident (although I guess I am wrong on this count) that a post of this nature might be considered a bit of snark rather than a substitute for extensive analysis.

  18. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    For me, the question “Is blogging a ticket to easy money?” leads to the teaching moment of how it can be, and not “forget it, let’s all stay in bed.”

    I’ve been in a lot of tech ventures, some of which failed, some of which succeeded, and one of which was fortunate enough to go big. I was told that we had the 11th most successful opening day in NASDAQ history. I don’t know if that was true, but my boss made a billion in 24 hours.

    So … I tend to look at the possible, and the difference between manageable odds (with manageable downside) and no odds at all.

  19. john personna says:

    (I did not make the crazy big bucks. I’m retired more because I can drive the Prius and enjoy a mountain bike ride. Three are no Ferraris or mega-yachts on the premises.)

  20. michael reynolds says:

    No money, sure, but all the free abuse you want.