If only…

May 11, 2011

Most of my step-by-step instructional posts have a ‘Buy me a coffee if this tip helped you, saved you time etc.’ link at the bottom.

The link goes to a shopping cart (E-junkie.com), and the amount defaults to US$5 (you can change the amount), which can be paid to me via PayPal. In the interests of full disclosure, I pay $5 a month for the E-junkie shopping cart facility.

My blog post readership is almost 2000 visitors per day (as at the date of this post). And I get lots of ‘thank you for helping me’ comments.

So you might think that I’d make a little ‘pin money’ from this blog, right? You’d be dead wrong.

Let me do the sums for you.

I’ve had close to 750,000 visits to this blog since I started it in 2008, and my readership has steadily grown to nearly 2000 visits per day:

  • If 10% (75000) of those visitors ‘bought me a coffee’ for the default $5, I’d have made some $375,000 by now! (I wish!! I won’t even do the sums for 50%…)
  • If only 1% (7500) of those visitors bought me a coffee, I’d have made $37,500. That hasn’t happened either…
  • Let’s try 0.1% (750) — that would have earned me $3750. Nope.
  • 0.01% (75) for $375? That’s getting closer…
  • Reality: About 40 people have bought me a coffee (and not all have paid the default $5 — several have paid less; none have paid more), so I’ve received around $200. I’ve paid out more than $250 to E-Junkie.

So if anyone or any snake-oil company tries to convince you that you can make money from a blog, they’re dreaming! I’m a professional writer but there’s no way I make money from this blog. The figures may look good (‘you only need 10% of people to pay’), but based on my experience 99.995% of people WON’T pay for information that’s helped them. Maybe advertising works, but I can’t take advertising on a WordPress.com blog — and I wouldn’t want ads anyway.

This is not to complain, just to add a dose of reality to anyone setting up a blog with the aim of making money from the information they provide. I provide quality information (as evidenced by the many positive comments I receive), I have a good reputation and a reasonably high profile in the technical communications profession, and I blog very regularly — typically, I post every work day. My posts are invariably practical, with step-by-step instructions and relevant screenshots. Each post takes me between 15 minutes and 3 hours to write, so I spend a minimum of one and up to 15 hours per week of my own (unpaid) time writing posts for this blog.

I sure haven’t quit my day job, and based on the ROI of the coffee thing for the past two years (average of $100 per year), it’s not going to happen any time soon! Of course, you could take up the challenge below and all prove me wrong! ;-)

And for those who are wondering… yes, I DO donate to other people’s blogs when the information they have provided has helped me, and they have a donate option available.

Update: I’ve now changed many of these ‘donate’ links to a PayPal button.
Update October 2012: I’ve now shifted the ‘donate’ button to the right sidebar as a result of this: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/a-different-sort-of-scam/.


  1. It probably doesn’t help that you have duplicate content
    You need to get your own domain name and start building on that!

  2. Hi Luke

    I *do* have my own domain name for my website and have done for 11+ years: http://www.cybertext.com.au (the link you posted is the alias for that with the hosting service).

    I keep my website separate from my blog. My website lists the (paid) services I offer, whereas the blog is where I offer (unpaid) solutions and my opinions. The content of this blog is NOT duplicated on my website, so I can’t see how your comment is relevant to this post.

    Yes, I probably should have incorporated my blog under my domain name when I started it, but that wasn’t easy with WordPress then (I’m not sure how easy that would be even now). I also didn’t know how much I would post.

    I expect that to change this blog to one under my own domain name now would be difficult. I know I don’t have the expertise to do that and I’m not sure how I could deal with all the links, pingbacks, RSS feeds, subscribers etc. so that they weren’t lost in any such shift.


  3. It’s pretty easy now… I just made a CNAME in my public DNS zone and pointed the name to main domain… i.e. blog and computernotes. Costs $12/year to do it this way…Users can still put in the wordpress.com domain and it will redirect to the blog.yourdomain.com. I like it :-)

  4. I don’t understand why you pay e-junkie to forward me to PayPal’s website. Why not just use PayPal directly? I see a lot of people on forums do this for taking donations. You could be $250 richer!

  5. Probably because I have some digital downloads for sale on my main website. I set up the e-Junkie account for them as it removes me from the process (i.e. you can purchase and download immediately without you having to wait for me to respond to an email and send you the file).

  6. Hmm here’s my 2 cents
    I totally disagree that you cannot make money blogging, The reality is you can me and several people I know make a very healthy living out of it.
    What many bloggers forget is…that the content is really the king on a blog …any tip or stuff which I could have easily got off from a random site if not the product help page itself is worthless to me (as in I feel no obligation)
    If your content was unique or was distinctly helpful plus was impossible to get to without your help I would buy/recommend ba a fan of wholesomely. IN other words yours is the sort of content I wouldn’t have paid for any ways and if it was worth paying for I would have sent you mails with cheques in them if you wouldnt have put up a link.
    look at many top blogs
    tim ferriss
    james altucher
    seth godin

    PS My comment might come across as snarky but please this is not my intention at all..

  7. […] guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero, especially considering I’ve spent between two and 15 hours each week writing blog posts. […]

  8. […] I make no more than ‘pin money’ from the donate button at the end of many posts (https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/if-only/) and I pay WordPress to NOT have random ads on this blog (my […]

  9. […] guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero. One other change this year was removing all the individual links to the donate option from each […]

  10. […] I make no more than ‘pin money’ from the ‘donate’ button in the sidebar (https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/if-only/); I also pay WordPress to NOT have random ads on this blog (my […]

  11. […] guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero. I pay an annual fee to WordPress to NOT show their advertisements on this blog (I wouldn’t […]

  12. […] guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero. I pay an annual fee to WordPress to NOT show advertisements on this blog (I wouldn’t get any […]

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