The Biggest Reasons People Fail At Making Money Online

I’ve told you what’s the biggest reason for my online success. Now, I’m going to tell you what I think are the biggest reasons people fail at making money online. Technorati says there are over 175,000 new blogs entering the blogsphere everyday. While most bloggers don’t blog for money, a great number entering the sector are doing it for cash because they read some story in Entrepreneur magazine about some guy making over $300,000 a year just by blogging about what he ate for lunch.

The sad truth is the vast majority of these blogging for money bloggers will fail at making any meaningful amounts from their blogs. Why is that? I’ve came up with the following top reasons. I’m sure there are more. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

They Don’t Take It Seriously

Most bloggers don’t think of their blog as a business. As a result, they don’t take it as seriously as they should. Look at the really big blogs like TechCrunch or Engadget. They are run like full blown bricks and mortar businesses and I can assure you, the owners of those blogs takes it very seriously. Now, you can say they take it seriously because they’re so big but here’s the key; they took it seriously from the get go. It’s really easy to treat a blog like a real business once it’s making real dollars. However, it’s a lot harder to do when the blog is brand new and making nothing.

When I made the decision to monetize this blog, I didn’t tip toe through the tulips. I used as many monetization methods possible and I had to take it seriously if the case study was to succeed. Treat your blog as a serious business if you wish to make serious money from it.

Easy In, Easy Out

Because the barriers of entry in blogging is so low (you can start for zero dollars), people don’t have much to lose and as a result, don’t take it seriously. You start a blog, it makes nothing, you quit. Easy in, easy out. Contrast this with a traditional business where you invested a few hundred thousand dollars into it. If that doesn’t work, you will try everything possible to turn it around.

This low cost of entry has to be the biggest reason people don’t take blogging seriously and that’s really too bad. I’m pretty sure my blog is more profitable than many businesses that took a few hundred grand to start. If making money by blogging required a big money investment, you wouldn’t see a 99% failure rate.

They’re Just Blogging for Money

It’s a strange fact in the blogshere that if you just blog for money, you’ll get everything but money. People who blog for money don’t blog about stuff they’re interested in or are passionate about. They blog about whatever hot niche is paying the most. The problem is they don’t know anything about the topics – they’re only doing it for the money. Readers can see through that from a mile away.

Blogging is very much like a normal business in that it takes time to build up a customer (readership) base. It’s very slow going in the beginning. It took me over a year to go from zero to 1,000 RSS subscribers. The blog now gets over 1,000 new RSS readers per month. If you’re not blogging about stuff you’re interested in, you won’t stick around long enough for the blog to make you money.

They Don’t Believe In Themselves

There is a wise saying (I forgot who said it) that states, “Whether you believe you can or cannot, both are true.” The biggest limiting factor in your blog’s success is you. If you don’t believe that you can be a successful blogger, then you won’t. It’s really that simple.

82 thoughts on “The Biggest Reasons People Fail At Making Money Online”

  1. Not taking making money online seriously is a serious problem. When I see people who start blogs and the masthead says I’m blogging about WTF I want to blog about, and then they put ads on the site, I just have to wonder, what are they thinking?

    1. Those sites should be forced to shut down. 😈

      1. They don’t have to be shut down because the blogger will do it by default.

    2. Making money online with a blog is easy?

      I know that was my initial thought when getting into the blogging biz. Wrong!

    3. A lot of great blogs are started this way. The important thing is to get started and learn from your experiences, mistakes, and successes.

    4. HostingCow says:

      I don`t see the point of putting ads on blog about your personal(and mostly boring) life.. You have nothing to offer for adsense keywords and mostly, your blog readers are your relatives.. But blogging about something that really inspires you and it`s your niche, is worth of putting ads on blog.. Ads are like “what to do next links”.. but links which will get you the money 😈

  2. Honest Ed says:

    “They’re Just Blogging for Money

    It’s a strange fact in the blogshere that if you just blog for money, you’ll get everything but money.”

    Ain’t that the truth. When I started my blog it was all about the cash. Not until I actually started enjoying myself and doing adsense experiments and podcasts did I actually starting making money.

    1. I read a post by Nate Whitehill a while ago called “Top 5 Reasons Most Blogs Don’t Last”. It’s a really insightful post. Regarding blogging just to make money he said…

      “Many new β€œmake money online” blogs have popped up over the past few months. That being said, how many of those people actually make money online and are passionate about it? John Chow didn’t start writing only about how to make money online – he initially just used his blog to talk about his passions, only one of which was making that online dough. My passions are business and web development, and only since I have been blogging has my passion for blog development emerged. Now, blog development is one of my favorite topics to write about.”

    2. Alan Johnson says:

      If you only blog for money and aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, your readers will realize that and you will face the consequences. Let’s face it, people visit your blog in order to gain information, not so that you make money.

      Alan Johnson

    3. Yeah, I hear you Honest Ed. I think that is a really common mistake. I know I made it a few times myself.

      It is so much more enjoyable (and easier!) blogging about something that you are really passionate about.

  3. MoneyNing says:

    This is a good post for people who are early in the game πŸ™‚ It brings back memories when I first started out. After 10 months, I’ve grown the blog to have 700+ subscribers but hopefully I will be pulling JohnChow numbers in a year πŸ™‚

    1. Gunvi Sund says:

      Hey you all fantastic bloggers. I like to blog to about the things I am passionate about. Which is Swedish folkart and crafts. And art and crafts in general and to teach people crafts, and to get along with the animals they own or see in their neigborhood each day. I guess if I do it in my own language Swedish there is no money in it? I am pretty fluent in english though. I also do inspirational paintings that I like to sell as postcards. Is there a way to make any money here for me? There must be a way on line with my knowledge in these areas. Can somebody help me please? I read so much of how to make money on line but I feel outside with my interests. Can I fit in somewhere? Is my niche to small?

  4. Webworm says:

    Blogger may fail if
    – misunderstood that blogger will give them infinite passive income…i guess every single cent worth a drop of blood.
    – People only take blogger serious for first few days and lose his/her momentum after that…
    – Blogging something that he/she like but not reader like*

    * If he/she is only blog for interest, this is the best approach…

    1. And that’s the most common beliefs people have about making money from a blog. It’s easy and comes quick. Quite the opposite though isn’t it?

  5. Neil Duckett says:

    A basic knowledge of making money offline is always a help too.

    1. XFX says:

      That’s right bro. Real business techniques that are taught in good business schools, or self learnt.

      1. um, I think you mean self taught. πŸ˜•

    2. Alan Johnson says:

      I agree, my experience as far as running a brick&mortar business is concerned has proven to be extremely useful and has helped me avoid quite a few mistakes.

      Alan Johnson

  6. I believe I can win some blog contests and I really won some great prizes from blog contests :mrgreen:

    Make Money and Get Free Stuff from blog contest. Visit for more information

    1. πŸ˜•
      Your comment has nothing to do with the post. Do you speak english?

  7. Well I guess most people don’t have any idea about business strategy. They just set up shop and off they go. The other ones don’t care about money.

  8. These are so very true. It’s easy to put together a blog, write some crap and say you know how to make money online, even if it’s not true.

    1. Thet sounds like most of the “make money” ebooks out there.

  9. Ryan says:

    ❓ what if money really is your passion…LOL then what else do you blog about?

  10. The quote you reference is from Henry Ford, for those of you who care. All good points here, and you can definitely tell when someone is passionate and knowledgeable.

  11. Guillermo says:

    My fellow Canadian… it’s good to see you’ve not lost the ability to write good posts… Congratulations on this one!

    By the way… what happened to that project of yours of starting a weblog from scratch, with no “famous name” behind… remember?

  12. 7BillionLoss says:

    Good points. Serious ness is dafanitely important. more important is frequency. Dynamic content is better than static in the blog world.

  13. Couldn’t have said it better myself, John. Especially the blogging only for money part.

  14. deejay says:

    you’re right mr. johnchow, blogging making it as a passion 😎

  15. James Green says:

    I just started this whole blogging thing, and I have to admit I am doing it to make money. I am working on it and learning as I go and can’t believe how much I have learned in just a week’s time! Your articles put a lot of things in perspective for me thanks!

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      As a blogger, you always have to ask yourself: why should people visit my website? If the answer is “so that I make money”, it’s back to the drawing board I’m afraid.

      Alan Johnson

  16. Melvin says:

    I think you already posted a topic about it… anywaythey just don’t understand that it is not going to happen overnight… thats it..

  17. AhTim says:

    1 more, They did not use correct techniques to blog.

    –blog for dream–

  18. Another reason for failure–picking a very small niche that doesn’t have many readers or advertisers.

  19. This is the best post ever on

  20. Asela says:

    Great post John!

  21. Al Young says:

    Why is it that there are so many people blogging about making money online and yet there are only a small number of people actually successful at doing it? John, being the exception.

    1. In any field that someone has success in, there are others that fail. That’s just the nature of business. And, as John mentioned a lot of people don’t take it seriously.

  22. yang says:

    Hi John

    I’ve been reading your post with interest, thks for sharing.

    BTW, I’ve subscribed for your newsletter, twice, but have yet to receive any. I’ve also emailed you on this via Contact but still nothing from you accept for your auto-response. How come?

    Kong hee fatt choy.


    1. John Chow says:

      You haven’t received a newsletter because I haven’t sent one out. They don’t go out on any schedule.

  23. John, great post mate, seriously. This type of post is why I stick around through all the food posts and look what conference I’m at now stuff. Keep these coming man!

  24. Another challenge is, if you blog is in Chinese language, you may have extra hurdle (like my blog) to overcome when monetizing the blog. Most of the affiliate like textlinkads don’t accept non-engligh blog.

  25. ebookbum says:

    You’ve got to love what you do. Simple as that.

  26. David Chew says:

    Nice post john. People who want to earn some money through blogging must really be serious about it.

  27. The first step is getting started too, instead of spending countless hours reading online forums and not doing anything. John Chow FTW! πŸ˜†

  28. CatherineL says:

    Great points John – and they can be applied to any business. Too many people want something for nothing. And when they don’t get it in a short space of time, it’s easy to walk away, as they haven’t really invested anything anyway.

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      Exactly, most people tend to give up if they don’t see results right away, expecting everything to happen overnight is the biggest mistake an entrepreneur could make.

      Alan Johnson

  29. Chip says:

    Out of 100% blogs started for money, only 10% gets through the initial phase, and only 1% (maybe less than that) manage to earn and make blogging a full-time job.

    I discovered this by reading too many blogs, and by extending my sites network and seeing how hard it is not to lose grip, and to maintain more than 5 sites (not necessarily blogs) in the same time.

    It all resumes to work, more work and a bit of (more) luck.

  30. When i told my friends that John Chow or is making 20k$ a month, they were laughing at me and ask me to wake up from my dreams. They even said how foolish i am to trust to such things online. πŸ˜•

  31. Shams says:

    It’s true. If you believe it will. But everything takes time. There are many rubbish advisers on the net, so people think to start before they know what they are going to do. That’s why most fails. Everything takes time and its perseverance.

  32. @Honest Ed – I like the comment about relaxing and enjoying yourself – it seems like everything follows from that… Recently, I have stopped just focusing on the forced entries and have started writing about things that I am thinking about for that day… heck I was writer blocked the other day, and it struck me that I am looking at this flat panel that I had purchased two of… because they ROCK! and I thought … why the heck haven’t I written about why I bought two of them… so I did… now I am looking at everything that way.
    Why do I eat where I eat?
    Why do I buy stuff where I buy stuff? etc. and I’m writing about that… don’t know if it will bring anybody, but maybe it will *grins*

  33. Trust me, pro blogging is never easy. Really tiring. People thinks that it’s easy to make money online. yeah it’s easy if you are hardworking and read John Chow’s E-book. Trust me… I am dead tired! πŸ˜›

  34. Great Post…I can’t wait to see your post about how much this blog made in January 2008…it should be on the way in the next few days!

  35. Manisha says:

    John Chow,

    You may be tru but what about those who are putting feed of others into their blog which are made to earn money only and they have nothing to do, just sit and what money pouring in. I know several websites and blog who are copying content and including feed of other successull blogs and carry on.

    These people are certainly neither write any line in their blog nor they have intention, but they certainly earning.

    What about them? write something.


  36. Patrick says:

    In order for a blog to become successful, it has to provide an insight on subjects people are interested in reading about. If it is a plain post with no goodies to think about or something to take away, whats the point in re-visiting? No that I have had any success, but I have read many blogs that I have never re-visited for this purpose.

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      People stick around if your content is worth it. As long as you post quality information on a regular basis, visitors will return but should you every stop providing value, things will start going downhill fast.

      Alan Johnson

  37. I cannot completely agree with you. These are not may be the biggest reason that people fail to make money. The main reason may be they don’t know how to make money. I think this is the foremost reason. Thank you for this chance to discuss such a matter.

    1. Well, one way to definitely not make money is to blog about making money, when you don’t know how, but think you do.

  38. WannaSmile says:

    I consider myself new to the blogging world, and there is so much I’ve learned in the past 6 months just out of my own pure interest. I may not be making money right now, but I’m enjoying what I do and would not have stayed with this had I not been having fun with it! I think I get the most satisfaction from my readers comments. I recently had someone review my site on stubmle upon and what they said about hit home and made me realize that what I’m doing positively affects other people. This makes me smile πŸ™‚

  39. Rhys says:

    I wonder how long the people who are commenting above me will continue blogging?

    Me, I’ve been blogging for 5 years. Sure, it’s about me, but I’m making decent money a month from it πŸ™‚

  40. Yes, the barrier is low in blogging, but the people who get in and quit certainly aren’t the one’s that will be going on to invest in big businesses. I hate to say it, but they might as well keep on washing dishes…maybe for some of the restaurants John eats at.

  41. Scott Hinz says:


    Great information! As was already commented, the quote you made reference to is by Henry Ford. As someone who was born and raised in Michigan I know a lot about him (not to mention that my great grandfather used to work with him when he was just starting out in the auto industry). Henry Ford is also quoted in the movie “The Secret”. Which, by the way, for any of you out there that are looking into blogs for a creative outlet with the possiblity of financial gains, this movie is a must watch!

    BTW, I too have been rather successful with the online world and have just recently started several blogs. Im amazed at the traction Im getting thus far! Keep up the great advice and if you haven’t cornered the market on all the good marketing ideas, Id be up for sharing a few that are causing my site to go thru the roof!

  42. Giun Sun says:

    Hey John, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I believe in order to get anywhere, you have to start with taking a look in the mirror. Think if you truly are ready to start this endeavor, then contemplate whether you have to have a passion for blogging, because if you don’t your writing will show your true colors.

  43. Martin says:

    This is great information, but its hard to teach people when money is their end goal that they cannot simply blog about making money online.

    1. Giun Sun says:

      Well…you could just blog about making money online, but you have to be earnest about it.

  44. myson says:

    im still new in this line…how can i get a good review from advertiser…do they check on the blog traffic first…

  45. Is adsense still worth while. Google appear to be losing the plot recently and are getting some very bad publicity. In Google Accuses Crabby Old Lady of Dishonesty they appear to be acting in a way that makes them impossible to do business with. I have no doubt that, had they explained what the problem was, Ronni Bennett would either have fixed it or would at least understand it. They appear to have grown so large now that the have lost site of their customers.

  46. Moin says:

    A very nice read! 😎

  47. Eva White says:

    Excellent article ! I totally agree with you. But I would like to add one more note to the above article that how much it is important for a blog owner to take his blog seriously, it is also equally important to market his blog in the right way. Sometimes very good blogs come to a sad end, because it was not marketed well.

  48. Duckeldanny says:

    Thank you again for this great post

  49. dale says:

    great info,top to bottom.looks like this topic has been going on for
    awhile.i came across this site off a google search.i,ve been wanting
    to start a blog to supplement my income as well.from the outside
    looking in,the new kid on the block,the unbias party,if u will,i can see already that the cream rises to the top.i haven’t been at this
    very long and already have learned that all this info is like eating
    chicken…eat the meat,throw away the bone.i’m not very computer-
    savy,but it’s like in the real world,you r going to get out it what you
    put into it.i’m a commercial concrete guy who knows hardwork and
    with the weather things get slow.i gotta make this wife
    and concrete r my passion.time to get off my soapbox now,seeeya

  50. Infogle says:

    Very right…
    This is the exact problem with people who are thinking about making money with a blog. They dont realize that what they are up to blog demands patience and updates. Nice decent suggestion.

  51. penantang says:

    great article. it’s a new information 4 me. and i hope i could become like you. believe with your self..

  52. Katie says:

    John thanks for this great Article you wrote. I learned allot of important things from what you said on here. I will use what you said wisely. Thanks again! πŸ˜›

    ~Katie πŸ˜‰

  53. Haroon says:

    Thanx alot john

    I loved reeading another awesome post of your
    worth the time πŸ˜‰

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