Review: How to Make Money Blogging by Bob Lotich, a so-so book on pro-blogging


I'm always interested in improving my understanding of how to make a living from writing. A few years ago I started writing blog posts seriously, getting the idea that I could make an impact on the world through writing, while earning a living doing so. That's what the book "How To Make Money Blogging: How I Replaced My Day Job With My Blog" is all about, the steps required to successfully pursue that version of the Great American Dream.

Many of us have caught this itch - that we have a message to say, that forces us to keep writing every day. There are plenty of websites, courses, books, videos, podcasts and more talking about a dream, that of quitting your day job, and just writing blog posts. For me that dream has turned into one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. A guide-book from someone who is successfully living that dream might be valuable. But is this book it?

It might be - for someone who's just starting out, that is - and for someone who realizes this book is not the be-all-end-all of guides to becoming a successful problogger. A big clue is that the author offers training courses on blogging, meaning an unspecified part of his income stream is not from blogging but teaching people about blogging. On the one hand it means he knows a few things about professional blogging, and the book shows that knowledge. On the other hand it strikes as a kind of pyramid scheme, because he's part of this cottage industry of bloggers-who-teach-courses-about-blogging. It's like that apocryphal story from back when we had magazines that were still printed on paper, with ads in the back selling get rich quick schemes - that, if you send in the $5, you get back an envelope telling you to run advertising in magazines about get-rich-quick courses.

Anyway, what about the book? It's fairly good, but very small, kind of light weight and a bit out of date.

Most of the book is about setting up a blog - registering domains - setting up a self-hosted Wordpress instance - choosing a customizable theme. That's all important stuff about blogging, but should he have spent 1/2 the book going over those mundane details? No.

Someone buying a book with this title wants to learn how to make money. That should be the focus of this book. He could have put all that "set up Wordpress" stuff on his BloggingYourPassion blog, and referenced it from the book, leaving more room in the book for important stuff.

Skipping all that and we land in Chapter 6 (of a 12 chapter book). "How I make money with my blog"

The information in this chapter, and the following, are a reasonably good, well written, outline of what to do. There isn't much depth to the information, but he hits all the high points and makes some good recommendations.

The book was written in 2010, and some of the recommendations are, well, old. The book doesn't at all discuss social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) as a way of gaining blog traffic. But, four years later, the idea of not participating in social networks is quaint, because it has to be a core to ones strategy.

Another old recommendation is to put interesting keywords in your domain name. That used to be a top recommendation, until Google threw the Exact Match Domain websites into the spammer heap, downgrading them into oblivion.

In short, my recommendation for this book is pretty weak. It's worth reading, and might even be worth the purchase price, but just don't expect much out of it.