Is blogging a calling? Why do so many blogs fail?

A recent observation has compelled me to reflect on the title of this blog post: Is Blogging A Calling? Who said blogging was easy? Why do so many blogs fail? The focus of my observation is on the multitudes of personal blogs that have closed shop and those on indefinite leave of absence.

For the purpose of this blog post, I would classify blogs into 3 groups and explain why I think the 3rd group is the most vulnerable.

Group blogs
These types of blogs are managed by two or more bloggers, whether as a formal business or not-for-profit. At the top of this ladder are blogs managed by professional bloggers. Their day job is to proactively search for currently relevant information and share same with their audience. They get a pay cheque and so are contractually compelled to perform at optimum level. The most popular blogs on the Internet today fall squarely into this category. Example: mashable.com

These blogs are usually well-financed and make money from ads placed by leading brands. Since such blogs are managed professionally, their chances of failure are low.

Probloggers
These are individuals who blog for a living. They spend most of their time focused on events, magazines, websites and other sources relevant to their blogging niche. They are hardly ever short of material and are wildly popular whether on a global scale or within their region/country. They are usually popular enough to attract advertisement directly from businesses that want to reach the blogger’s niche audience. Example: problogger.net

Chances of failure? Medium. The professional blogger would have to loose focus to fail.

Freelance bloggers
Most bloggers fall into this category. While there is really no such thing as a “freelance blogger”, I am compelled to use that term to distinguish this category of bloggers from the others listed above.

These bloggers usually have a day job that pays their bills. Blogging for them, is only an activity done out of passion to change the world, or to make a name, or earn some cool cash on the side. Their main life focus is understandably on their job and they only make time to blog. As such, these blogs are typically not updated regularly. At best, they are updated regularly for a period of time, before falling back into the cycle of irregularity.

While the chances of failure are high, the reasons for failure abound:

  • Get rich quick: Some get into blogging because they consider it the holy grail of unending cash. While it is possible to earn $100,000’s of cash annually from blogging, one would need to run the blog properly to earn over $100 a month.
  • Doing it right: Some do not follow the basic principles of blogging. It helps to learn well before delving into it. Writing well and not gaining the right audience is like lighting a candle and placing it under a table. The blogger soon looses steam when he/she gains little attention, and quits.
  • Lack of ideas? The world is never short of blogging material. The leading news houses for example, never struggle for what to broadcast/publish, but rack their brains on which to leave out! A blogger who does not know where or how to look for fresh material soon gives up.
  • Time. “There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men:  time”.  ~Napoleon I, Maxims, 1815.
    Sometimes, a blogger can have all the material to publish, know exactly how to blog effectively, but simply lack sufficient time to sit down and put it all together. Freelance bloggers are often obliged to give utmost priority to their day jobs, and constantly struggle to create time for blogging. The not-so-committed ones soon abandon their respective blogs to gather dust and cobwebs. Many of such litter blogger.com while the committed ones only manage to publish randomly, at best.

Now you see why I am wondering if the art of blogging is a calling for a special set of people who can afford to give it all the time it requires, and do it right.

Are you a blogger? What are your views? How do you cope with the rigours of blogging? Share your thoughts here and now.

12 Comments

  1. The primary catalyst for the success of any endeavour is passion ,not forgetting motivation.
    I strongly believe that a huge fraction of bloggers ,blog out of idleness .That explains why their blogs are ephemeral and doomed for annihilation as soon as another interest or fancy flashes across.

  2. Blogging is a calling. You must have both the unbridled passion for something and the need to talk about it online, constantly. These two traits are not always in the same person, but a person must have both to succeed in blogging. Yet, your topic of passion can change over time.

    Back in 1996, I started blogging to share my life in Russia, which I thought fascinating only to my family, but then became popular with many. Then I wrote about life in Washington DC, which again was geo-focused. Next came OLPC, where I really applied my blogging skills to a subject of passion. Yet all of these were freelance, with a stress on the “free” – I got beer money and mini-fame but no cash.

    From all that though, came the paying gigs – World Bank contracts to blog for them on ICT for education, and an amazing day-job where bogging on ICT4D is one of my core activities. So now I am a problogger in a very difference niche than where I started (travels in Russia).

    But through it all there are two constant themes that made me succeed:

    1. I have great passion for the topics I write on. I live and breathe them on- and off-line.

    2. I am driven to share my ideas online. I think of my life events as blog posts, and yearn to write them.

    These two drivers cannot be taught, nor can they be bought. You either have the passion, or you read about it in a blog.

  3. I found the illusion that blogging begets a super rich life style the most devastating cause of failure. Certain individuals who go about the internet giving off the idea they literarily lie in bed making cool money via blogging are not helping matters. Blogging is HARD stuff! Its all about composing and writting prose. Who said that was easy? Ask Chinua Achebe and co how easy that is. Or do you have their literary genius?

    Again running out of ideas especially when a blogger chose a topic they are not familiar with. Ask me about that one 🙂

  4. Thanks for this enlightening piece. I fall under the third category, where time for my employer comes first and all else is secondary. I have indeed found out that creating time for guys like us is a major challenge. In the beginning there is also frustration that nobody seems to be reading you, no comments etc, but after I decided that I am indeed writing for myself and stopped watching out for comments, hits etc, I found that it became more easier to write!

  5. You know i started blogging to make some cool cash. But for two whole years i never earned, until recently when i received my first adsense check. i created blogs after blogs and all that.Then about nine months ago, i created my nigerian news blog which did the trick. Tell you what, my strong passion for giving out information to an audience that never knew my blog existed until lately kept me going on. And you know what, i always did this from cybercafes (i still do for now). It was a horrible experience, every month when i receive my pocket money from my dad ( am a university student), i’d divide it into two equal halves, no kidding. My friends thought i was being stupid, now they all think am a guru.

    • Good story. It would have been nice if you used your real name for this comment rather than “Nigeria News”. Personal branding might be more important that the little SEO advantage you are trying to gain, Oji Chika.
      All the same, keep the fire burning.

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