The Hard Work Myth: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

The Hard Work Myth: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

So you have your blog set up. You have a great idea and some business direction. You’re excited about this! You’ve seen the big guys (and girls!) raking in massive incomes… now it’s your turn. Right?

Well, sort of.

A lot of success stories gloss over an important piece of the puzzle – and that’s a real shame, because you need to know about it. You also need to know about a few other myths revolving around how long it takes to make money with your blog.

Here’s the first: It’s not about “hard work” or “sticking with it”. (Although that helps.)

Let’s take a little walk, shall we? *offers internet arm*

The Recipe for Success

There are two types of bloggers: those with realistic expectations and those with a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with either one, because they’re both equally delusional.


Both have the same chance of success when it comes to making money with a blog.

We’ve all read blog posts where people tell you that it takes hard work and a lot of diligence to make success happen. If you follow that advice, you’ll have realistic expectations and won’t pray for overnight money-miracles.

That’s an important part of the puzzle.

But that doesn’t mean success will happen after patiently working at your dream for three years, any more than it means that someone with a pipe dream isn’t going to make it despite all odds.

Both might. Both might not.

Over the years, I’ve found that while hard work and stick-at-it are vital, they’re actually not the main reason for success. They’re more like a casserole bowl.

What you really need is some freakin’ good ingredients, a recipe and some hungry people to eat your dish.

Now, a lot of people have the bowl and the ingredients, and most people know where to find hungry people.

But a lot of bloggers are totally lost on the recipe.

In fact, they often mistake the ingredients for the recipe.

Just because you know how to write good articles and promote them to people doesn’t mean you can make money.  And that’s where the problem lies.

To be truthful, it took me several years to realize this myself:

  • Good articles don’t make money.
  • Lots of traffic doesn’t make money.
  • A packed list of devoted readers doesn’t make money.

It’s that recipe that makes you cash – your plan. It’s knowing how to put all that stuff together and direct it towards an outcome that turns a profit.

That’s why success isn’t about hard work or sticking with it for long enough. With the right plan, you can make a million dollars tomorrow.

I’m not kidding: I know a guy who went from $30k a year to over $5 million in just a few months. He did that because he had a bunch of ingredients and figured out a plan that no one had thought of yet.

So where should you put your energy?

We all need to really work on our recipes. Most of us know how to write good articles with great titles and great SEO tactics.

But not enough people know how to pull it all together to sell their product or a service.

How can you figure out your plan? Understand what blogging is meant to achieve. Why is it there? Why should we bother with it anyway?

My answer: to create the outcome.

  • The point of blogging is not to get 100 comments on every post.
  • The point of blogging is not to get a huge amount of email subscribers.
  • The point of blogging is not to be flooded with traffic from Google.

Blogging is about achieving an outcome.

If you run a wedding photography blog, you might not need 2,000 new visitors every day to make $100k a year. You might only need 10 visitors, if a few of them hire you for a $4,000 wedding shoot.

What about someone who sells software to corporations? Do they need tens of thousands of visitors to turn a profit? Or do they just need to get in front of small numbers of owners and managers?

Knowing your desired outcome is the key – and then you write your recipe for success by building a plan to achieve your outline.

So what’s YOUR outcome?

What do you hope people will do when they visit your blog? Do you want them to buy your product? Get curious about a future product? Do you want them to hire you for consulting or for your services? And how many clients do you need? How much do you want to make?

You need to know this desired outcome before you can develop your plan.

And you really need to develop that plan. Without that piece of the puzzle, your quest to make money might last a really, really long time.

Like, forever.

Post by Ramsay Taplin

Ramsay Taplin blogged anonymously as the Blog Tyrant for two years before revealing his identity in a 420 comment love-in. He's sold blogs for 5-figures and works from home in his pyjamas. He hopes you'll join the couch-based blogging army. Say hello on G+.

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  1. Hi Ramsay,

    Great thoughts about keeping the “real” goal in mind. Would I love to have 400,000 readers like a certain blog that’s near and dear to my heart? Sure. But I don’t need a flood of people. I only need a handful of the “right” people – people who need to hire a writer and like what they see there.

    I’m not sure I agree about the plan, though. It’s important to keep the outcome in view. It’s also important to have some direction about the right way to accomplish what you want. But I’ve spent too much time “planning” (read: procrastinating until the “plan’ is just right). Had I spent that time doing something, I would have screwed up faster, learned faster, and changed my approach faster.

    Changing your approach as you’re ‘doing” is far more valuable than a detailed “plan.” But I realize I’m in the minority on that one. 🙂

    Couch-based blogging army? That’s sweet.

    • Hey Jesse.

      Yep, totally know what you mean. What you said reminds me a lot of that episode of Scrubs where JD is learning about resuscitating people by talking about it while Turk is using defibrillators on a man who is actually just sleeping! Learning by doing!

      I guess my main point was just that a lot of bloggers seem to know about blogging but not the reasons/outcomes of it.



      • Well, when you put it that way… maybe having some sort of idea where you’re headed is better than using defibrillators on a man who is just sleeping. 😛

        I know a lot of people though, who are spending their whole lives “planning.” They never do anything, because they want to have all the answers and a perfect plan in place first.

        I guess the best questions to add to your planning routine are, “When?” and “Why not now?”

    • I don’t know if you’re in the minority, but I totally agree with you. It’s better to fail quickly, learn quickly, and move forward.

  2. Great post. I agree. Success is all about achieving a desired outcome, and whatsmore the perceived success of others (numbers, wealth, fame etc) is usually a byproduct of the true success. It happens because you’re successful but is not the success itself.

  3. Hi Ramsay, another great post, slightly shorter than normal, I was expecting to go and make a brew and put my feet up for a good half hour however it might be shorter than normal but it still is crammed full of useful information and inspiration.

    You are right, some people do make a lot of money quickly, it can happen, to think it never does is delusional, the same is right for those who believe it will happen over night, in many cases it won’t. You should believe in the possibility that one day it will happen. It can be fast or it can take time either way, if you do not know what you want to achieve then you will not know how to go about it and that will seriously hinder any chances you have of getting the outcome you desire.

    Sitting down and thinking what you want to achieve and then writing down the steps and ideas you have in a mindmap or list will help a lot to understand where to go. A plan is a must otherwise you are wondering round in the wilderness so to speak.

    Great post and speak soon.

  4. Always enjoy the Blog Tyrant at work. I agree that you should keep the big picture in mind,

    As a beginner blogger, I have monetary goals for my site written down and my plans for said monetization. Yet, I also have goals to build a community, and at the moment solely focusing on that aspect.

    Should I change my approach to focusing solely on monetization? Or set up goals to hit a subscriber goal, with the longterm goal of monetization?

    • Hey Joe.

      Sounds like you know what you’re doing. Perhaps the problem you might face is distractions from your goal. Building a community is great if it serves a purpose and you don’t get caught up in just building a big community that does nothing for your business.

      In one of my early Problogger posts I talked about short, medium and long term goals. Perhaps write out one for each and give them dates as a target. For example, 5,000 subscribers by December 31, $500 a week by June 2014, etc.

      Hope that helps.

      • Thanks Ramsay, yeah I see what you’re saying. Keep the long-term goal in mind, but set up marks along the way for subscribers,hits whatever but make sure those marks contribute to your long-term goal. I can dig it

    • Here’s my take on it, and I’ll steal a quote from Dragon’s Den Kevin O’Leary:

      “I’m not here to make friends; I’m here to make money.”

      Alright, so that’s a bit cold and cash-oriented for the warm fuzzy society of the blogosphere, so here’s another take on it, paraphrased from business psychology coach Peter Shallard:

      “You need money to fund doing what you love.”

      In short, put that together and it means this: community is nice, but there can’t be any community at all if you can’t pay the bills or fund the community project. If you want to do what you love or work on projects that don’t bring in any money at all, then you NEED to have funding… so I’d say money is a very short term and necessary goal to ANY long-term goal at all.

      Make sense?

      • When Albert Pujols (a famous baseball player, if you didn’t know) signed a $100 million dollar contract, a friend told me how outraged he was that baseball players make such ridiculous amounts of money.

        I asked him, “What if he gave his entire salary to a charity that you’re passionate about? Would it be okay for him to make as much as he could?

        So I’m with you, James. I’d love a warm and fuzzy community that thinks Jesse’s ideas rock. What I love more is a handful of people who trust me to write for them, so I can afford a bigger platform for those ideas.

  5. Nice article Rams, really like where you are coming from and think I may even be starting to see some of this now myself (finally!). The outcomes part is especially interesting, because it is the exact focus of my new project… Only trouble when things finally start to click is that you (or at least I) start expecting more from yourself, which seems to lead to a lot of second guessing and procrastination.

    See how 2013 goes anyway eh?

    Keep up the great work.

  6. Excellect post!!! You must have read my mind this monday morning because it seems as if I hit this topic as well. I fully agree that so many bloggers are just writing aimlessly to try to succeed. It’s like driving without a roadmap or true destination!

    Again excellent post!

  7. Great post Ramsay, a lot of people do stuff because they hear it is good to do but fail to understand the complexities of it all. They hear ‘start a blog it can make a lot of money, the Blog Tyrant has sold some for 5 figures..’ and they go and start a blog, they write a few posts and hope to become successful but have no idea of what or how they want to achieve the end result because there isn’t an end result.

    They just know that it could and should make them money and that is it. Stick some AdSense on and wait for the money to roll in, but like you say, if you know what you want to achieve and have an idea of where to start you can avoid fiddling around trying to get thousands of people a month to earn with AdSense when you could in fact charge $4,000 to a handful of people who might just need your skills in a consulting capacity.

    You cannot overlook the time spent brainstorming and thinking. That afternoon or two could be all the difference between earning fast or spending years working for a few dollars.

  8. Great article here Ramsay!
    The plan, the strategy that you speak of, is really what sets apart those who succeed with their goal (whatever that is) from those who fumble awkwardly before eventually deciding to quit.

    The “recipe”, albeit not necessarily needed from the very start, should eventually change the course of the blog. It can be developed over time as we polish our offer accordingly with the demand and knowing our audience. So for that account i think that it is even better to get inside your niche, try to develop your idea independently from the “plan” for a while, and then after seeing the broader picture of audience-demand-offer set the plan in motion.

    Great article, I always love to hear that non-flowery-prose advice.
    Have a great day my friend

    • Yes, I’d also say that the plan doesn’t have to be perfect from the start, but we must be willing to evolve as we learn, and constantly revise the plan as we learn.

  9. You never know if you have a good plan that works until you try it and test it. To reiterate what some have said, it’s very rare that you’ll have a perfect plan from day 1 that you can stick with for the rest of your career. It has to be a cycle of learning, planning, testing, and doing. And I say that that’s true not just in the beginning, but until the day you retire. It’s not just with blogs either, it’s with any type of business, organization, or project.


  10. Fantastic Article Thanks,

    It’s true over the past year that I been blogging. I never really understood the reason why I did x article, or why I participate in Facebook. I guess I thought I needed to get any traffic to my website. The more the better to be able to sell something. Be persistent and keep working hard and that would just eventually paid off.
    But what I noticed is that over this period of time things haven’t worked well. My bounce rate has been huge and people aren’t loyal to what I been doing.

    It’s hard to change my mindset but I just have to accept the fact that I need to focus on finding people who have a problem; are hungry to resolve it and resonate with me. And that doesn’t need to be large numbers. I am currently writing a plan so I can focus on the right platforms to bring that kind of people to my website. Sure I am also going to change all my keywords, the way I write articles etc.


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