Making Money Vs Making a Name: Which One Is More Profitable?

By Ana Hoffman
37 Comments

Every single person in the world has an innate desire to feel important, to matter, to count.

No matter how we look at it, recognition from the outside world plays a tremendous part in how we feel about ourselves.

This desire or even necessity to feel respected carries into almost every nook and cranny of our lives, including our online business.

And this begs a question that’s been haunting me for a while now:

Would you rather be recognized as a true authority in your niche, invited to speak at conferences and give interviews, asked for opinions, etc., but not necessarily see much monetary gain from all this recognition…

OR

being a nobody in the blogging world, but quietly making a nice income from your online business?

Fame or money, in other words?

It might come as a surprise to you, but many A-list bloggers don’t make much money from their blogs.

It’s true.

On the surface of things, they look quite successful, get hordes of traffic, social media attention, and comments, but have very little to show for it as far as their bank account goes.

We all think that we want to be just like them some day – a recognized expert in our field, but do we really?

I recently had the pleasure to be a speaker at a closed webinar for a paid product.

The two other speakers were Jon Morrow of Copyblogger.com and Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com.

One of the topics discussed: how important networking was to any blogger’s online survival.

The consensus was that this was one of the most vital steps bloggers needed to take from the very conception of their blogs: get to know other bloggers in their niche, form friendships, and alliances.

Jon Morrow even said that in the beginning stages of any blog, a blogger should spend 20% of their time working on writing incredible content for their new blog and 80% of their time networking on other blogs.

As a result of your blog being more and more recognized among your peers and even those who are way ahead of you, THEY will be the ones who’ll spread the word about your blog and will send you their readership as well as quality one way link building.

When you start seeing this shift, you can slowly move towards spending 80% of your time writing stellar content for your blog and 20% of your time networking.

It does make a lot of sense, right?

Once your name gets around, your readership will find YOU and not the other way around.

However, let me ask you this question: does your popularity have a DIRECT correlation with the amount of money you’ll make online?

Unfortunately, not.

Allow me to introduce a different way of doing things.

Are You In It For The Money?

Those of you who are regular readers of Traffic Generation Cafe are well aware that I am a strong proponent of SEO traffic.

And why wouldn’t I be?

It’s free, highly targeted, and can be leveraged long-term, meaning that once you obtain high rankings, you have a good shot at staying there with minimal upkeep.

Unlike getting targeted web traffic via networking, namely things like guest posting or commenting on other blogs, which requires CONSTANT effort or there won’t be any traffic, traffic from the search engines will come on autopilot.

Sure, it takes time to learn how to truly generate the kind of targeted traffic that will convert into loyal readership/subscribers/customers, but it’s well worth the effort.

So a couple of months ago, I decided that I wanted to dominate the search engines for any search terms related to traffic generation.

Ambitious, but doable.

As I starting doing my competition research though, I noticed something: one particular blog kept popping up on the first page of Google for just about every single keyword I was looking up.

Here are some notable things about this blog:

  1. Nobody has ever heard of it.
  2. They don’t care about building true readership – no comments or active social media sharing.
  3. The author is very prolific as far as content production goes; he posts daily, sometimes even a couple of times per day.
  4. The content itself is mediocre; the kind of information you can find anywhere.
  5. The backlinking strategy is exceptional – a great number of high quality links from all kinds of sources.

So here we have a blog, the sole purpose of which is to be listed for as many high-trafficked terms as possible and have the readership come to IT.

Just in case you are wondering, their Alexa ranking is not that great, but still good compared to so many other blogs out there.

And I bet you ALL their traffic comes from the search engines.

Some carefully placed paid ads, Google AdSense, and affiliate products combined with completely free hands-free traffic equals a blog nobody ever heard of that most likely makes more money than many authority blogs.

Clearly, the owner could care less about networking; all he needs is some good SEO skills to bring in just as much traffic as most bloggers would through time-consuming guest posting, commenting, and hanging out on social media.

It’s not about recognition. It’s about making money online.

And in the end, isn’t this the final goal for most bloggers?

Rags For Riches

So here’s my ultimate question to you: do you spend more time building your online presence, trying to carve out your well-deserved place in the blogosphere, while sacrificing doing things that directly affect your bottom line?

Or would you be OK with being a nobody online, but at the end of the day, bring in a nice income from your efforts?

Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer here.

I do believe though that answering this question will help you to find the right balance in your business.

If you definitely fall into the “building your online empire” category, but still don’t see much financial reward from all your hard work, maybe it’s time to come up with a better plan, a better balance.

If you could care less about networking and you are just in it for the money, in which case you most likely wouldn’t be reading this blog post to begin with, just be prepared to shift your business with the capricious search engine behavior.

It’s always nice to have a backup plan in case that next Google update will send your site crumbling down from the top.

As for me, I used to be in the former category. Networking is how I built up Traffic Generation Cafe and I am not about to give it all up.

I know that in the end my readers are the ones who’ll make or break my business.

However, there’s no reason why there can’t be a balance between serving others with great content, making friendships, and connecting with other bloggers, and making money while you are at it.

We all just need to find ours.

One size doesn’t fit all in this case.

Would definitely love to hear your thoughts on where you are at with your business. Fame or money? Have you found your balance yet?

Ana Hoffman

About Ana Hoffman

Traffic, traffic, traffic... Can't do without it, but don't know how to get it?
Ana does, and she freely shares her web traffic advice that doesn't suck on her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. And don't forget to pick up Ana's 7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination free SEO report while you are at it - stop hoping for more search engine traffic and go get it!

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37 Comments

  • Raj

    Networking (or) SEO is a good strategy to get visitors. But if you want people to stay with you (or) follow your blog, neither of them help much. Its always great/ useful content that makes people to stay and follow a blog. If left to me, I would neither be popular nor be rich because of blogging. I would just want to be useful to others.

    Ann, I recently came to know about your site which enables bloggers to exchange guest posts. I think its a great initiative – Keep it up!

    • Ana

      Content is definitely paramount to both keeping the readership and acquiring new one, Raj; no question about that.

      Of course, being of use to someone makes my day. But I also have to remember that I am building a business.

  • Well said Ana. My ultimate focus is to dominate search engine especially Google with high searched key phrases in my niche. I believe networking is good, but it’s easier when you’re making money already. Sometimes, networking could consume a whole of your day.

    The secret is this, network is important but not for those who are just starting out to raise income for their online bills. While networking as much as you can, try to optimize your webpages and make money from search engines.

    Concentrate in doing this, and a balance will strike. I hope this helps.

    • Ana

      I agree with that, Michael – that’s where I am leaning towards myself these days.

      I used to spend too much time networking and it would consume all my time. Result? I had very little to show for it other than lack of sleep. LOL

      I find guest posting to be a great balance of both networking and SEO (link building). I am planning on focusing more on that in the future.

  • It’s more important to me to bring home the cash at the end of the day, but I do like to get the recognition as well. I would say a 70-30 split is how I roll.

    • Ana

      In theory, I am the same – I’d love for this to be purely business for me.

      In practice though, turned out I am pretty vain; love to see my name posted all over the web. At least I know it, right? LOL

  • Hi Ana,

    I have been blogging for the almost a year now and haven’t thought of making a name or money for myself but just to help my audience. Since then, I came to realized that I had to do something to make my blog survive and that is where I thought of selling some space on my blog to make extra cash but it shall take time to bear fruits.

    So to me, I would rather help others than make money or brand myself as this is what I talk about on my blog.
    Those two words; fame and money comes naturally and that is why I prefer giving service.

    • Ana

      Makes sense, Malok – just takes a whole lot longer to “get there” that way. Not that I am against helping people, of course; that’s what blogging is largely about.

      However, it’s hard to find your way without knowing what you are working towards.

  • Hi, Ana,
    Great post… but to me I think it’s more important to SEO my blog and make money than networking. Although, when you look at it critically, one should get involved in both. However, concentrating your effort at SEO should in my opinion be more crucial at the beginning… and once the pay starts coming to take care of certain bills, then you can start networking. Truth is, if you’re networking without anything to show for it, it could be energy sapping and discouraging.
    The bottom-line is I’ll give it 80/20.

    • Ana

      Of course, SEO takes a long time to implement, so it only makes sense to start doing it early to reap the benefits. After that, you can spend all the time you want networking – I agree with that.

  • Ana
    I’m still experimenting, but great content is my goal and SEO comes in second. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. It’s a good thing to step back and think about though-thx
    Mark

    • Ana

      As it should be, Mark.

      Otherwise, what’s the point of bringing in any kind of traffic, including SEO traffic, if you don’t have a way to keep your visitors on your blog, i.e. stellar content?

  • Ana,

    Your post really made me have to sit back and think. What is more important to me? Making money or being “known”. Well of course it really comes down to making money for me. Sure it would be awesome to be the “go to” person for my niche but in the end I’m in this for making money and changing my life. Thank you and I look forward to your next post.

    Katrina

    • Ana

      That’s how I feel as well, Katrina – it’s a business and should be all about money.

      Yet, every time I see another blog mentioned somewhere, but not mine, I feel a little sting…

      Turns out I care about the value part a whole lot more than I thought!

  • for me it’s more important to make money with google adsense..

  • Thanks for this post Ana. I’ve been struggling between both (either making money or being known) for quite some time now and after reading this post I realized that it is about balance. Not that I had no idea, it was just more like a wake up call.

    I’m the type of person who wants to be in it to help others and connect with them. Money is not my goal as long as I have enough to pay for essential expenses, that’s it. Other than that, I’m in it to connect with others and help them.

    But the problem is, I don’t have much to cover a lot of expenses so I’ve been recently looking toward making money online more than connecting with others, which kind of disgusts me.

    So I’m kind of in an awkward, uncomfortable position in that I want to help others, but at the same time, I can’t keep up with my expenses to sustain my message so I have to look toward making money as my top priority.

    Hope that made sense

    • Ana

      I DEFINITELY know what you are talking about, Brandon.

      I love what I do and would definitely do it for free, but considering the expenses and the time blogging takes, it’s simply not viable.

      Balance is a great idea; however, reaching it is an entirely different animal, isn’t it?

  • I would say that influence is the area that I aim for. by having an influence, you have a longer impact then just the income. Now, I do want to build an income from my influence, but by having an influence, you also have the opportunity to create other products, and potentially gain a profit.

    • Ana

      How long are you willing to invest into becoming influential, Christopher, before you start drawing solid income from it?

      Just curious…

  • I think that if you look at a blog as a platform in which to engage your readership and target audience, provide value to that readership then you will grow over time and the money will come. How you choose to do that thru networking or otherwise I think is down to the individual. Having said that I think many people miss the part of how to properly monetize their sites, and create a proper marketing funnel

    • Ana

      Definitely, a good point about many bloggers not knowing how to monetize their blogs properly, Rob.

      I used to be in the same boat.

      Once again, it goes back to reaching that balance between networking and learning and implementing money-making strategies for me.

  • Branding your name is more profitable in the longterm. But in most cases, going for the money first then branding the name gives faster longterm result as money can boost your ‘name’, (advertisements, seo, product creation ect)
    Branded name is an asset which alot of people just not know about.

    • Ana

      Good point: there’s no reason why you can’t go for the money first and brand your name as you go.

  • Hi Ana, I think for me, it’s somewhere between the two. I have always tried to earn the respect of my peers for most of my life but at the same time, maintaining a low profile and hoping to make just enough money to get by without experiencing shortage of the basic needs and a few minor luxuries. Some have said I lack ambition and drive but I think I simply aim for a healthy balance in life. At the moment, I am hoping to be successful at SEO for my blog and then I’m going to see what other challenges I can take on or what other avenues I can see myself trying to get into.

    -Jean

    • Ana

      If I am honest with myself, Jean, I know for a fact that I lack ambition and drive to make it big online.

      Doesn’t mean that we still can’t built a viable business, right?

  • As others said a balance between those two is the ideal since if you just focus on quick money or just your fame (even though that pays on the long run) you will lose a lot opportunities. So of course SEO is very important and a blogger should certainly use some link building methods if he/she wants to rank high on search engines but he/she should certainly develop relations and network with other bloggers on his/her niche…

    Kostas | Opportunities Planet

    • Ana

      Both SEO and branding takes time, that’s for sure; however, both will benefit a long-term business.

  • Hi Ana,

    While reading your post I was thinking to my first steps, few years ago, struggling to understand and to start projects right. It was painfully, I must admit! But we have to go further, learn from mistakes, improve a lot and believe in us, in what we are able to do.

    I preferred to focus on keywords on SEO, not on branding on local market and even in a long term (since 2007). But, just to clarify, I was selling only one digital product and relying on some google ads… For more products I would switch to branding!

    Marius

    • Ana

      Are you still selling just one product or have you since diversified?

      • Yes Ana, just one product eversince.

        Regards,
        Marius

  • Hi Ana,
    I am not at all interested in building up my name. But by being helpful, polite, have knowledge, etc. in blogs, on forums, etc. you will receive Respect and a name.

    • Ana

      I wish I was one way or another, like you are – would’ve been a lot easier! LOL

  • I think this is a very interesting topic and something I have lately been wondering about. I have read numerous articles and blogs on top blogs such as engadget.com where top bloggers (as you’re saying Ana) are only making $1000 a day but getting the world’s traffic at their blogs’ doorstep.
    And I would say: What a big waste of time!

    I would rather NOT want fame but would gladly want to have the SUCCESS of actually making money online. Should I be amongst the top 1000 bloggers in the world – I would also want to earn the top 1000 highest paycheck.

    It’s just logical.

  • Hi Ana,

    I like your message and I absolutely agree with this approach. Indeed, a blog must contain useful information and, of course, good quality… even if it’s not always a guarantee of success. There is so much information on the web, it is sometimes difficult to stay focused and… it may be a good thing as well! Anyway, congratulations on your excellent article!

    Martin

  • Actually making a name is very difficult for online business. Because as long as you work for a name your time is going on… Intead of making a name and spending time for it we should focus on making money. For example we can create more websites . I know some people who have over 50 websites. That means if each website earn just 2$ in a day, we can get 50×2=100$ at the end of each day. No brand, no name but more stable income!

  • All efforts directed into making a name is considered as a long term investment. Sure it’s hard to do and takes a lot of time, but the rewards are there, you just have to wait for it. Every business needs patience and a lot of hard work, but I’m not also against the method building several blog sites just for the purpose of getting the profit at the end of the day. So it will come down to preference, although for me – building a name is the best.

  • Content is definitely paramount to both keeping the readership and acquiring new one, Raj; no question about that.

    Of course, being of use to someone makes my day. But I also have to remember that I am building a business.

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