5 Biggest Lies of Supposedly Successful Bloggers

Carol Tice

5 biggest lies of supposedly successful bloggersIf you’re like me, you get a lot of email newsletters from top bloggers. Many of them are awful pushy, no?

I’m not talking about the bloggers I really like. A few leaders in the blogosphere are honest about what it really takes to earn money writing online, and give you practical tools that help you grow your income.

I mean the other ones. You know the type — they send you an email every freakin’ day (or twice or three times even!), and every single post is basically a sales pitch. Usually, for something expensive.

They send you almost no useful advice through their free newsletter. It’s just “buy my stuff and you’ll find out how to be awesome like me.”

I’m pretty skeptical of most of these “I’m jet-setting around the world while my blog earns on autopilot…let me teach you how!” types.

To be frank, I think many of these people are flat-out liars.

They’re really getting rich because thousands of suckers are paying them to explain how they’re getting rich. Which is only happening for them because you just paid for their ‘how-to-get-rich’ course!

Here are the red-flag messages from mega-bloggers that send me running the other way:

  1. I’ll show you how I did it, and you can do the same thing and become a huge success. Here’s the thing: Most blogging-success gurus you run across made it big a while back. Many of them came up as blogging was just getting started, and the playing field was a whole lot emptier. Things have changed a lot since then. Back when, one guest blog post on a popular blog might get you 300 new subscribers — but I know few people who’re seeing that now. What worked for them back in ’05 isn’t going to work for you. Their system is out of date.
  2. You can be just like me. Really, you can’t. Why? Because we are all unique individuals. You will never be this blogger. You can only be the best blogger you are, by exploiting your own uniqueness and your expertise to the maximum. Mimicking their blog topic, their marketing plan, and the products they sell is not going to work. You’ll have to slog through on your own and figure out your audience, what they need from you, and what they would buy. There is no copycat success in blogging.
  3. With my tips, you will make money in your sleep on autopilot. I think a tiny number of people are actually making this happen. Hit blogs usually arise from a confluence of several important factors — a hot niche topic, celebrity-blogger friends who promote it, a killer product or two, relentless promotion, and finally a smattering of sheer luck. Most of the successful bloggers I know work like dogs. They have multiple sites, they constantly develop and launch new courses or ebooks. Sure, as their site gets more subscribers they can earn more with the same amount of effort. But reports that bloggers are lying about in a hammock full-time while earning bazillions are greatly exaggerated.
  4. It’s easy to become an online millionaire. If this were really true, we’d all be rich by now, hmm?
  5. Just affiliate sell my expensive thing, and you’ll be rich. Not necessarily, if your expensive thing isn’t a fit for my readers. But lots of affiliates helping sell your expensive thing definitely makes the star blogger rich. The reality: You have to be careful what products you affiliate sell, or you risk driving subscribers away.

How can you really attract more business with your site? Find out Wednesday, when I hold a Blog and Writer Site Review Webinar with whip-smart blogger Stanford Smith of Pushing Social. We’ll be using Freelance Writers Den members’ own blogs and writer sites to demonstrate simple changes you can make to get more visitors, subscribers, and buyers. You won’t get rich in your sleep on autopilot, but we’ll give you some proven, practical tools for growing your income. This event includes a report with our 20 best tips for a successful website.

Congrats to Shana, whose questions on Friday’s post about how to make her writer site stand out won her a 1-week free pass to the Den and a chance to get her site reviewed in the Webinar.


  1. NextGen Writer

    Fortunately, I donโ€™t get much of these emails. I only subscribe for the newsletters from the bloggers that I regularly read and trust. But this post will surely save a lot of people their hard-earned cash and priceless time.

  2. Ahlam

    Definitely agree with the above comment. Only subscribe to blogs you have been reading and trust will bring you valuable information – instead of plugins for products with every post delivered. Before I sign up to receive a newsletter, I’ve usually visited the website a few times and have learned something valuable along the way –readers are becoming savvy on deciding which blogs to subscribe too, which is why subscriptions are not jumping through the roof like its 2005!

  3. Luana Spinetti

    When I run into free newsletters from bloggers, I get all “uhm…” and I try them for 1 week: if I find they have something useful to me, I stay subscribed; if not, I leave. There’s no point in getting my inbox filled with useless junk, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    The only “you will make money in your sleep” strategy I found working so far is automated sidebar advertising from services like Backlinks.com and Brokerage.linkadage.com, but they’re FAR from getting-rich-quick schemes. The most you can make out of them (if you own 20-30 blogs, that’s it) is a measly $60/month, which is good to renew the domains + hosting, but certainly not good for a living.

    You know, Carol, I believe there is no good money without hard work. Easy money is only made in fairy tales.

    ~ Luana S.

  4. Kiesha

    Hi Carol,
    I’m so glad that you pointed out the fact that many of the tips those bloggers are giving are out of date. At this point, everyone is pretty much on to those sales emails and they are now totally ineffective. I’m not saying that you should never let your subscribers know about goods that are going on in the blogosphere – every now and then I appreciate the news Darren Rowse sends me about his new ebooks and don’t mind letting my readers know about it. But it should never be abused.
    When people ask me how to make money from their blog, I honestly and opening tell them the truth, that affiliate links and advertising isn’t going to be a big money-maker – however, the helpful, knowledgeable or time-saving services that a blogger can offer are the biggest earners. The problem that people have with this, however, is that it isn’t passive and does indeed require active work. (Oops… did I say “work!”)

    • Carol Tice

      I know people who do very well with affiliate sales…but ultimately, most people’s real cash cows are products they create themselves, where you keep all the revenue. And creating your own products, well…it’s work!

  5. claudio alegre

    They are flat out liars and there are so many out there Carol!

    The things is that at a glance you can tell whether a site has traction or not …

    In some cases If you make a nice living consulting, and you happen to have a blog where you offer tips, that’s great … but your income does not come from the actual site. The site enhances your image and may or may not create added value, but that’s about it.

    If your blog or site is not part of your lead gen, then no! Your are not making money as a blogger. IMO that only happens if you can monetize your online efforts by offering unquestionable value to your visitors and subscribers that eventually turn into business … like I think you are doing for example through this terrific blog.

    Good stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Jason

    The only top blogs I subscribe to are the ones that have provided awesome info on their blogs themselves. In fact, all but 2 of the blogging bloggers I follow are on your “gurus” list. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I ran into this when looking for tips on making candles. I wanted to find blogs to help me do that, and literally all I found were blogs that only existed to sell ebooks and courses (with no real content on candle-making on the blog itself) or really poorly written blog posts that conveyed no lessons, not even fulfilling the promise in the headline, that were clearly created for ad revenue.

    It pissed me off enough to start the kind of blog I’d been looking for. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Carol Tice

      Right on, Jason. That’s basically how I started this blog, too. I was seeing advice sites for writers where it was basically congratulating writers for moving up from $5 articles to $10 articles. And I was like…. WHAT? I felt like there wasn’t practical advice out there on how to earn professional rates. There was this mythology out there that there WEREN’T professional rates anywhere anymore.

      When you see information that isn’t being offered, and it makes you mad…to me then you know you’ve got a great blog topic for you.

  7. Jean Gogolin

    I got so infuriated at all the flogging of her BIG product by from one of the top sites — no names mentioned, but the writer’s real name just went public a year or so ago – that I nearly unsubscribed. I may still. Not only was the constant pushing of the product enraging, the price – $1500 or so — was outrageous. Give me Jon Morrow any day. His current course is terrific.

    • Carol Tice

      Jon Morrow is a genius…can’t wait to check out his new thing! And I know who you’re talking about, Jean…I almost fell over when I saw that price.

      One reason I started the Den was to drive the price of my help DOWN lower by using the power of mass…lots of people putting in just a little to create the community and let me spend more time helping writers earn more. My experience is most writers who need my help aren’t rolling in dough — they need affordable products!

  8. ljilja

    I absolutely agree! No money without working and the autopilot does not believe and for me it’s fake people and I do not want to be a fraud.

  9. Jean

    When I first got into the know about affiliate marketing and making money online 4 months ago, this was all I ran into. Making money on autopilot, how to rig up your site so you hit #1 in Google and rake in Adsense dough.. it was actually pretty funny. They were all loud, annoying squeeze pages with popups that forced you to stay if you tried to hit that magical “X” in the corner, and they all hawked the same thing – “buy my program, and you too can be as rich as me.” As if their screenshots of likely fabricated Paypal statements convinced me to otherwise.

    I actually ended up subscribing to about 15 of these just to see what free information I could squeeze out of their newsletters. I can honestly say that I didn’t learn a single thing. All it succeeded in doing was filling my inbox with what was now spam numbering in the hundreds daily.

    Yes, they are BS. Every single one of them. I always tell myself number 4 – if it were so easy, we’d all be rich by now. Most people buy the program/ebook/subscribe and never actually get started. That’s what these fake gurus prey upon – the hesitance.

    Thank you for laying it out, Carol. It’s a reason you’re one of the very few people I still have subscribed – every single one of your posts are insightful and tell the truth. Now if I could only get enough money to sit in the Den on a regular basis. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

    At this point 99% of my income comes from my freelance writing business. And it’s growing every month and I’m pretty excited about it. I wonder, as a freelance writer, if you can actually ever get to the point where your ‘online’ blog/passive income rivals (or replaces) your day job income. Carol, I’m pretty sure you did a post that detailed your affiliate and other online income – can you send me that post? Do you think you could/would every dump your freelance writing business to earn passively online?

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Ruth —

      I don’t have a goal of getting out of the freelance writing business. I think as soon as you do that, your advice starts to get dated, especially with the speed at which online markets and social media are changing everything in publishing. Also I love writing, and the challenge of writing for clients!

      My goal is to do LESS freelance writing and more helping writers earn more. But I don’t see freelancing going away.

      It was Jon Morrow, as it happens, who told me that was my secret sauce — that I’m one of the few people giving this type of advice who’re still actually out there DOING the freelance writing. Then I write about my real experiences dealing with difficult clients, getting better pay, etc.

      You certainly can replace your freelance writing with blog income…I know people who’ve done it and now earn from their blog full-time. But let me say it was WORK! Not a question of finding the right pop-up and the right affiliate offer and then they’re on a beach in Maui. They’re working their asses off…just in a different business now. An Internet business.

      But to clarify, I don’t earn very passively online. My ebook leverages past work so I guess it’s passive at this point (though I plan to shortly redo it completely!)…but the Den involves me very actively, I’m on there nearly every day, plus putting on the live events.

      • Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

        Thanks for the quick reply Carol. I agree – I love the writing. I love working with clients. I doubt I would ever give it up. It would be great to supplement my income with my blog, but I’m not really looking to switch one out with the other. While I’m no Jon Morrow, I’m a freelance writer who has benefited directly from your online perspective. He was right; I haven’t found anyone else out there in the blogosphere who speaks so directly to my circumstances, so thank you!

  11. Michael Martine

    This is also a great “how not to market” post. It’s easy to get sucked into marketing that has these hallmarks simply because so much of it leans that way. Swim with the tide, and before you know it you’re out in very deep water.

  12. Joseph Putnam

    I totally agree with this post. A lot of the people that are teaching how to “get rich” are the ones that make money because the suckers are paying them to teach them secrets which don’t exist.

    I completely agree that anything that sounds like a get rich quick scheme is too good to be true. Making money is about hard work and effort, not easy schemes.

    • Luana Spinetti

      Sometimes I wonder why people still believe in the fable of easy money making schemes… If that was the case, hunger in the world would be long gone by now.

  13. Samie

    Yea, I signed up for one of these guys by accident: I had to sign up for it to download a program they had. Every single day. None of it was useful. After a week, I quit the newsletter, I was so annoyed.

  14. Katherine Swarts

    On #3: As I understand it, the (ethical) bloggers who are making money while they sleep (and they do exist, but their income rarely comes close to the millionaire level) are not for the most part doing it directly from the blogs, but from downloadable e-books and other “information products” that are RELATED to the blogs. Some such writers believe in “a blog for every e-book”–so long as the blog carries genuine excerpts or other useful related information, and isn’t simply a series of ads for the book. As you can imagine, keeping up several blogs (not to mention getting the word out to attract followers and creating new products when interest in the old ones wanes) is not exactly the equivalent of getting rich with no more work than is required to score thirty words a minute on a keyboarding test.

    I do think, though, that online sales of self-published e-booklets is likely to become a major income channel for many freelance writers–the ones who have the sense to treat it like a real business–in the near future.

    • Carol Tice

      I think the ones doing it on autopilot don’t even blog. They just set up static sales pages with good SEO that hard-sell their product, and leave them to sell.

      Of course, they still have to create all these products…so once again I think we’re back to the myth of the autopilot Internet income.

      Really, it’s a business, like any other. For most, you need to work at your business to keep it growing and earning.

  15. Michael

    A great eye opener Carol. At last someone with passion for bloggers and freelance writing is exposing these so-called experts.

    I get about 10 emails daily, asking me to buy one product and the other, in order to become rich. I discovered that these people don’t actually make money from those ideas, they make money when we buy.

    Believe me, it’s all my fault for subscribing to their hard-core email newsletter. But that was when I was a novice online. I can’t possibly unsubscribe from all the emails, because they are pretty much. But I would abandon that gmail, move all my relevant data, and create another account attached to my domain name.

    Thanks for writing about this – it’s a wake up call and a surprise, totally out of freelance writing. God bless you.

  16. Ken


    Just found you…and lovin’ ya’ already. I’m actually emailing myself your url so I don’t lose it and can bookmark it when I get home. (Sshh..I’m at work!)

    • Carol Tice

      We won’t tell ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Daniel

    Fantastic post article, Carol.

    I became very disenchanted with the whole ” Become a mega rich Blogger in 6 months” spiel quite some time ago.

    What really added salt to the wounds was my actually doing a fair amount of research, then by mere accident coming across the very methods that are being used to fill the pockets of these snake oil sales people.

    I almost fall of my chair in a combination of laughter and sheer disbelieve, at how obvious many now ultra successful sites got there.

    The worst part about this is that, though most people are familiar with the shady side of SEO, etc, they do not realize that many so called reputable sites did(Are still doing) just that.

    A site I have visited often that uses ” how I got to this level of success in a year in my first online venture” as their pull factor in driving massive traffic(and top ranking) for their site.

    Low and behold! I found out just recently that this particular individual had been up to their arm pits in Affiliate marketing, and other online businesses way before they even started their Blog.

    This is a perfect example of the ” How I came from nowhere and conquered the blogging World in ? Months”! Mantra that is the foundation upon which a number of sites build their success.

    Many sites get individuals of note, to do PAID testimonies for their site to ramp up the REP factor, even though the site at that stage in time does not look the goods, so to speak.

    Just recently I went to a site(That used the same dodgy methods) whereby, some of the commenters took the webmaster to task. The commenters had done their maths, and had realized the numbers(Monthly earning report of the site in question) did not add up.


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