As time has passed working on SideGains I’ve become aware increasingly of the slightly sniffy view that some bloggers have towards the “blogging about blogging” niche… of which SideGains is clearly a part.
I’m intrigued about this and want to explore it a little. Are blogs about blogging adding value? Too many of them perhaps? Maybe they’re cynical and lowbrow? Is blogging about blogging just selling a dream?
So what is it that drives some bloggers crazy about this niche?
Why Blogging About Blogging Drives Some Bloggers Crazy
Reading through this article on Medium by Tom Belskie, I understand what is perhaps the biggest reason why some bloggers can’t stand it.
Many uber-bloggers who blog about blogging, are generally making a killing by selling courses to people. Some of these courses are not cheap. Neither are most of them presenting special “secrets” that can’t be found online for free.. and none of them are able to guarantee success… since as we all know there are no secrets apart from:
- Hard work.
- Striving to do the best you can.
- Commitment over the long-term.
- Trial and error.
- Continuous learning.
- A large measure of good fortune (this one’s pretty important).
There are of course strategies people use that have a enormous value, but many successful marketing bloggers have documented these online for free on their blogs, or in forums etc.
Tom Belskie says he finds blogging courses being sold for $500 as unethical… and for me it seems so too. Would I ever buy a course about blogging for this amount of money? Probably not… unless I knew it was the absolute best advice money could buy, and even then it’s a massively steep investment.
Are Blogging Courses Unethical?
So perhaps for me the issue is not bloggers selling blogging courses per se, it’s more about the outlay a student has to make, with zero guarantees that it will work out for them in the way they’re dreaming it will. Let’s be honest about it, most blogs fail, especially those expressly set up with the dream of making money… because there are no short-cuts and it takes a massive amount of sweat investment over a long-term.
Tom advises against buying blogging courses from bloggers and instead to visit a library, listen to podcasts or buy books about blogging from Amazon. I agree with much of what he says, since:
- I love libraries and they need to be supported.
- Nowadays there are hundreds of incredibly slick (free) podcasts providing incredibly useful information in the blogging niche.
- There’s nothing like a owning a nice collection of books that you can refer to whenever you need.
But at the end of the day, most people who commit to writing educational books or producing podcasts have to earn money… and it makes sense for them to try to do this with the medium in which they work.
If your educational books don’t sell, you can’t give up your day job to spend time focusing on writing for a living. Podcasting too requires significant financial investment in technology as well as time to produce lickety-split podcasts. Should they not try to benefit financially from them?
Personally I have no problem with people monetizing blogs, especially if they write well and deliver value. I also have no issue with podcasters recommending products and getting a kickback for it. So the issue I have is expensive blogging courses that DON’T do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Is It Wrong to Sell Courses on Blogging?
For me it’s a categorical no… but with caveats.
I feel it’s wrong to sell someone a dream based around a course that offers no real value above and beyond what you can find in a search on Google in minutes. This is especially true if the information is wrapped around a whole bunch of motivational fluff as padding. This is a big no-no.
Neither do I feel it’s entirely ethical to sell expensive courses, unless they truly are exceptional and offer real value. I know that scaling up sales at $500 a piece makes sense if you’re aiming to get rich. But is any blogging course really worth that for the average buyer?
I’ve never bought one so perhaps like Tom Belskie, I’m just over-cynical and jealous. Perhaps satisfied students of some of these courses will take me to account and recalibrate my ignorance. I’m happy to be persuaded by someone showing me REAL evidence an expensive course worked for them… I might even buy it myself in that instance.
What seems to be the case for some successful uber-bloggers though is they were in the right place at the right time and the strategies that worked for them at the time they started will probably not work for you right now. That’s life in any business… good luck to them.
However, if courses are not adding real value to people right now, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Will I Ever Sell Courses?
Probably at some point.. but I imagine it won’t be a subscription-type of affair and neither will it cost $500, unless I bundle it up with some of my own personal time (like setting up WordPress or 1-on-1 assistance in some other way).
I appreciate this is not an entirely scalable model and unlikely to earn me a squidillion dollars… but that’s okay. I just want to earn a nice living doing something I believe in that helps people solve a particular problem.
The truth is I haven’t totally figured out the way I want to monetize SideGains. Right now I’m trying to build up a valuable resource in this niche. This is going to take a long time since the uber-bloggers have a massive head start, the resources to continue advancing and huge numbers of followers to keep the ball-rolling.
I’m also still cutting my teeth. SideGains is not my first blog, but in past projects I’ve definitely been cynical about the money side of things… and the truth is I’ve made some money that way.
That’s not where I want to go these days.
SideGains and Blogging Courses
I’m aware I need to reshape some of the content I’ve produced so far to reach my goals. Some of my posts have an eye on search engines and in some of it I’m trying to increase my reach. In time I’ll have to revisit and iron out anything that screams at me.
However, right now I feel I won’t be selling expensive courses about blogging, containing information that can be found easily with a few search queries. On the other hand I have no problem with putting together ebooks that provide actionable advice and charging a fair rate for removing some of the effort of learning for those who want to learn what I know.
Perhaps I’ll change my opinion as time goes on… as I say, I’m happy to be proved wrong and will adapt my approach if it’s feels right.
That’s it for now.
What are your thoughts on the blogging about blogging niche. Drop a comment below and let’s discuss it!