I used to really love income reports.
I remember when I read Pat Flynn’s first income report a thousand years ago. It really opened my eyes up to the potential that blogging had.
I had seen larger media outlets do well with blogging, but for me blogging was always a four-figure a month thing which was fine. However, when I saw Flynn’s income report it made me realize that I was probably aiming a bit too small.
This dude was pulling 6-figures a month and making it look easy.
It was great for me to see how he was making money through affiliate marketing and the methods that he was using. It was like being able to sit behind him while he worked and that’s something you don’t get very often in this lonely world of blogging.
Many other bloggers have followed suit since then with their own income reports and many of them have helped me shaped my ideas around blogging and grow as a blogger.
Unfortunately, the concept of an income report has been butchered.
Now, most income reports only serve one purpose and that is to get people to a blog so that they can sign up for a mailing list or purchase a blogging/Pinterest course.
So this is where I say…
Screw your income reports.
What’s Wrong with Income Reports?
Again, let me reiterate, I used to love income reports.
I have no problem with bloggers sharing how much they make.
In fact, I absolutely love it!
There is a group of startups that share their revenue publicly and it’s one of the most insightful learning tools that you can find.
Some people hate it and consider it tacky but I think it’s important for other bloggers to understand the potential behind blogging.
Without income reports, many of us wouldn’t be even contemplating starting an online business because we would still consider it a hobby that isn’t worth our time.
With that being said income reports now are mostly traps.
They are meant to lure wide-eyed and bushy tail bloggers to sites.
There are two audience that suffer because of this:
- The blogger
- The reader
1. The Blogger
Posting income reports can be a quick way to get some traffic and start to build an audience but many beginning bloggers have taken it to the extreme where now a lot of them simply bullshit about the income they make.
They get away with it because the people reading the income reports don’t know any better.
Oh wow, you’re so lucky. I wish I could achieve that success like you so early on.
That’s what most of the comments look like on these income reports and it makes sense because why would someone go out of their way to write a detail income report that was all a lie?
The blogger has no problem talking about numbers they’ve made without any type of verification.
They have no problem talking about numbers they’ve made without any talk of the strategies that they’ve used.
(Note: If you’re curious about how people plan their business, what their actual traffic numbers are, and the money that they make then this is something that we discuss ALL OF THE TIME over at Odd Noodle Kitchen.)
Read the comments on these income reports and you’ll find bloggers asking how they achieved X and you’re usually met with some vague response.
Pinterest has worked great for me. Just write great content and use a scheduler!
Because this style of post gets them some traffic they become addicted to it. They follow the same pattern with each following income report.
I never thought I’d see the day when I would be making $473 from blogging.
That is followed by more random numbers, more random stats, and no explanation about anything.
$150 from Adsense off of only 5,000 pageviews? Impressive! How were you able to achieve $30 CPM when everyone else in the world is at $10 or below?
Other bloggers see the success of these income reports and realize they can make their own as well but they aren’t at the numbers of the ones they read so they end up making up some numbers.
It becomes a vicious cycle.
An affiliate program where you have to wait 60 days to verify the revenue has been made? It doesn’t matter, count it as revenue in this month’s report because it looks better!
Hell, maybe sometimes we’ll count it twice. In this month’s report and in the next report when the money actually hits our bank accounts.
These bloggers don’t realize the reports they were inspired by are probably gaming their own numbers as well.
So now you end up with a chain of bloggers that think they are the smartest blogger on the planet by getting away with fudging their numbers.
When they see they can get away with this, what else can they get away with?
How about telling people how they know all of the ins and outs of blogging after only 3 months?
Blog audits. Ebooks. Courses.
All teaching people the finer points of blogging after only blogging themselves for 3 months.
Unless these resources tell people to make up income reports and post them to Facebook Groups where gullible bloggers hang out then I’m not so sure there is going to be any other value in them besides what you read on every other “how to blog” blog (this one included).
It’s a shame because most of these bloggers could do themselves a world of good by just chronicling their blog journey and actually trying to learn about blogging by experimenting on new topics. Pushing boundaries to see what really works.
I don’t run over 10+ online brands because I’m passionate about these topics. I do it because I want to understand all angles of building a business and that includes blogging.
By no means am I suggesting people do that but faking it till you make it only works to a certain extent.
2. The Audience
I have a Pinterest course over at the Blog Simple Framework that is almost 6 hours long.
It’s that long, not because I blab my mouth off. It’s that long because I try to be thorough and give my students all of the tools necessary to succeed.
The problem is, I can’t reach everybody before another blogger does. So if you see a blogger in their 3rd month “showing” awesome blog growth and they just so happen to have a book on Pinterest, why wouldn’t you buy it?
It’s your first exposure to this stuff and if someone can show that success in their 3rd month then you can as well.
The problem is that book is just showing you what every other blog post on Pinterest shows you.
That successful book on blogging? It leaves out the details that really explain why the blogger has built up traffic.
None of these bloggers want to title their books I’m Successful Because I Sell the Idea of Success to Other Bloggers.
You’ll quickly see I don’t fuck around with making sure I have the right information.
But back to these quick success income reports.
Most of their audience doesn’t know any better so they buy these resources and implement the basic strategies being shown. What happens next?
They get frustrated because their blog on artisanal bead-making isn’t working out.
Why is everyone else having success with blogging but they aren’t?
They quit and leave the scene frustrated.
Another dream crushed.
What makes blogging great is that it shows people there is a level playing field and that you have a chance to create the lifestyle that you want.
It’s why I put so much effort into making some of the best blogging resources around like the Blog Simple Guide.
It sucks to take someone’s dream of changing their lives with a blog and online business, only to squash it because the information that you’re presenting or hiding builds up unrealistic expectations about this game.
It’s not that you can’t build up a blog quickly. I’ve legit gotten a blog to 400,000 pageviews in 2 months and I don’t pretend that I didn’t have some help doing it.
It would be impossible to do that again with Pinterest and I’m okay admitting it.
The problem is these income reports give advice that doesn’t apply to their audience.
- Write great content
- Promote it on Pinterest
Oh, that’s it?
Cool, I can do that. Wait, why isn’t it working? I must not be smart enough for blogging. I quit and am going back to the real world where I work at a job that’s killing me.
I don’t think income reports do enough in showing other bloggers how things are done.
You made $500 with Bluehost? Why do you think that is?
You sold 67 copies of your book? Why do you think that is?
I get told a couple times a week about how my blunt writing style appeals to people but the reality of it is, I’m not trying to be blunt. I’m trying to be honest.
Whenever I try to learn something new I don’t want people to bullshit me, just tell it to me straight.
If most new bloggers see early success because they write income reports then let me know that is the reason.
I’m sure you dream of building a great blog empire for yourself and becoming an authority on blogging. If that is the case then you need to TEACH your audience what you’re doing so they can learn.
This is what I refer to as the journeyman approach to audience building. You don’t HAVE to be an expert to build an audience.
Most people will enjoy watching your progress from the beginning because to them it seems more realistic.
Trust me when I say that there are people reading your income reports and leaving completely frustrated because the only thing they go out of them is that you promoted Bluehost and write income reports.
They want blogging to be more than that for them, so it’s on you to show them that it can be. If it isn’t more than that for you then why not tell them that you make money because you talk about making money?
Income Reports Can Be Saved
There is an opportunity with income reports. They are great for bringing in an audience and presenting them with your products and services but they are also a great chance for you to educate people.
You really want to sell your blog audit services? Teach the people that can’t afford them how to be successful. The lazy ones will buy your services.
Be honest with your audience. If you know your success is based upon something then let them know.
I wrote about the 7 blog niches that make money not because I wanted to disappoint people but because I wanted to explain the logic behind picking a niche that can help you achieve your goals.
My Blog Business Framework students will tell you that I don’t sugarcoat things. I don’t pretend something is when it isn’t.
I’m not going to pretend that you can build a successful blog by following your passion when 90% of my income is derived from pimping out Bluehost on my How to Start a Blog post (it’s not because I don’t use Bluehost and would never recommend them).
This is all great talk but what am I doing about?
Well, two things:
- I’ve already mentioned the Odd Noodle Kitchen. It’s where my team and I give you a behind the scenes look at everything that we do. We don’t hold anything back. We have no problem telling you about our failed product launches or when we did something well.
- I’m going to be writing more thorough case studies like the Bogoten one and the $5,000-Day one.
I want to offer you so much information about building a successful online business that you’ll know whether or not it’s for you as you’ll be armed with everything that you need.
I don’t want to tell you to come to my party and forget to tell you it’s a 70s theme costume party so you show up in formal wear.
The truth is that people that write income reports understand the value of them. They bring people to your blog and if you have a product that supposedly helps people make the money you make then an income report is great marketing.
However, you’ll notice that once bloggers reach a certain income level, many of them stop writing income reports because they don’t like what they do to their audience.
That’s just something to think about.
Do them right and they can be an invaluable resource for the people that come across your blog. They’ll thank you for them and spend time getting to know you more.
Trick them though and you’ve done more than just grabbed an innocent Bluehost referral.
You’ve possibly set them on a path where they’ll fail due to unrealistic expectations and instead of pushing forward with their online business plans, they’ll just give them because they aren’t like you.
Don’t be that person.
I promise I won’t be.
Want to Learn the NEW Framework for Building a 6-Figure Online Business?
If you liked this content then I have plenty more to show you. I just love to listen to myself talk and thankfully I usually talk about how I build successful online businesses.
The Blog Simple Guide walks you through our entire philosophy behind building successful blogs. It’s what we used to build up Bogoten along with our other blog businesses.
You can check out the online version or download the PDF by entering your email below.
If you liked this post, then you’ll like our $5,000 Day Case Study where we take a deep look into how we pre-sold a product for just 24 hours and made $5,000.