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When is a Blog Really a Dud?

Blog Duds

My last post made me ask myself (and answer) the question of what to do with dud sites.  First, before I tell you what I do with a site that I consider a dud, I need to define a dud.  Keep in mind that this post is purely subjective and I strongly suggest that you come up with a set of dud parameters to fit your writing goals.

What is a Dud Site?

I define a dud site in three ways: Money, Joy and Time.  A high level, basic and somewhat superficial definition of a dud site is a site that does not pay for itself within the first year.  This is especially true if I created the site with the long-term goal of earning money.

I learned early on in my online writing career that it does not necessarily take money to make money online.  When I decided to make this my career, I chose the 100% profitable route.  If the site doesn’t make a profit or at least break even in the first 365 days, then it’s history.

The Joy FactorJoy

If a site scrapes by and earns just enough to pay for itself, I then go to the second level of my dud blog definition.  Does this blog/site have a joy factor?  This is a crucial question because a blog with a high level of joy that does not have the ability to pay for itself gets a chance for a second year of life.

Online writing is a journey and one that should be enjoyed.  If I’m having a blast and I get up in the morning with blog posts swirling around in my head begging me to write them, I’d be foolish to drop a site because it wasn’t earning money.  Such sites help to fuel my writing passion, which then spills over onto some of my other ventures.

Hour GlassAll We Truly Have is Time

The final aspect of the dud test involves a lower level more analytical approach. This involves time management.  I find I have to apply my time management approach to sites that are on the financial fence that don’t bring a lot of joy.

If they scrape by and are self sufficient with little joy factor it is imperative to measure the time vs. return.  Usually after applying the time factor to such marginal sites I come to the conclusion to put them on hold.  If they can afford to pay for their annual domain name renewal I allow them to survive a second year.  I don’t add new content but I monitor the earnings.

I’ve found that dormant blogs with good content will continue to earn money at an increasing rate.  If the second year’s earnings are more promising then I might add more content to see if I can prod it along (provided I’m still interested in the subject matter).

Some Real Life Examples

Here are some digits on a blog that I created that had a low income factor but a large joy factor.  Because it passed test #2 with flying colors I kept the blog:

Joy Factor



 Earnings  Average



 $              –



 $           7.94  $       0.31



 $         49.03  $       2.72



 $       148.48  $       8.73


As you can see, the first two years the earnings were pitiful. Actually, years 3 and 4 aren’t so great either, but I enjoy the subject matter so I’ll keep this one alive.  Also, it now pays for itself so it’s out of the danger zone of being tossed.

Here’s another blog that survived because of the joy factor.  From the numbers on this chart you can deduce that these are my NJFM numbers:

All About Love



 Earnings Average



 $      10.00  $     0.06



 $      90.38  $     0.64



 $  1,075.07  $     9.60



 $    995.96  $    12.30


Who the heck writes 163 posts for a mere $10?  It’s gotta be love because nothing else can explain something that sounds so counter productive.

Here’s one that I enjoyed a lot at first but have since lost interest.  As you can see my writing productivity has decreased, but the money keeps coming in.  There’s something about the Internet where content keeps paying for itself.

Lost Interest



 Earnings Average



 $         31.64  $       1.98



 $         67.52  $       1.44



 $         50.78  $       4.23



 $       188.63  $     15.72



 $       213.70  $     53.43


Then, there are those blogs that I know will become money makers if I just put in the effort.  My interest wandered away from this blog for a bit, but deep down inside I want to develop this one.  This one satisfies my need for doing extensive research on not so warm and fuzzy topics so I keep it.  When I have a bit more time, I’ll add more content to this site:


A Future Project

Year Post  Earnings Average



 $         49.13  $         4.09



 $         22.59  $       22.59

And then there are the no-brainers:

No Brainer

Year Post  Earnings  Average



 $       393.12  $     15.12



 $     2,105.21  $     58.48



 $     3,903.76  $   156.15


Although I’ve lost interest in this blog and have only written 2 posts in the last 3 months, it continues to earn.

So, there you have it.   Oh wait…let me share with you one of my true duds that will not see the light of day when the domain name renewal comes around in March:

Super Dud







 $        3.70  $    0.62

Not only is it a dud, but I did not enjoy writing content for the site (I followed the advice of a guru and hated every minute of it).

So you can see that most sites, given enough time and love are not duds.  However, what I have found is that if I’m in it strictly for the money (as with my Super Dud site), I quickly abandon the site. If, on the other hand, there’s some affection towards the subject matter, they remain with me forever.

My Blog Tracking Spreadsheet (where I took the information included above) has info on over 20 blogs/sites.  At a glance, I can tell which ones are duds and which aren’t.  Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t end this post with a friendly reminder to track your earnings so you can make informed decisions. No sense in spending time building a dud when you might have a lucrative gem on your hands.

“What gets measured gets managed.”

~Peter Drucker

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • kidgas September 1, 2011, 9:02 am

    I love that Peter Drucker quote and strive to do just that. I don’t have enough sites to keep it as detailed as you yet, but I do have a good sense of what needs to happen to keep a blog alive. Just paying for itself is a major criteria. The enjoyment factor is a default for me. I don’t have enough time to work on something that I don’t like.

  • Crystal September 1, 2011, 10:50 am

    Once again you’ve inspired me, Felicia. Seeing the numbers behind your decisions tell the story so much better than words alone. I dumped a domain recently as I realized I was never going to devote the time to developing it into anything worthwhile. And it was so freeing – one less thing on my plate! Now I need to take a closer look at the rest of my projects and make some decisions there, as well.

    • Felicia September 1, 2011, 10:58 am

      Good for you, Crystal. Dumping duds is very freeing. You don’t have the self-imposed obligation to keep adding content. It’s like removing a ball and chain.

  • Vidya Sury, Freelance Writer & Blogger September 2, 2011, 3:23 am

    That Drucker quote says it all. It is interesting how the “measure” aspect varies from individual to individual. I write three blogs and simply love doing it. I don’t feel guilty when I don’t post, and I truly enjoy writing when I do post, which is pretty regular. I’ve had people laugh at me because I wasn’t actively doing anything to make them generate money. They called me crazy. (still do.).

    The funny thing is – I recently checked my AdSense earnings (I enabled it for the heck of it some months ago) and was pleasantly surprised to find a decent figure there. Not enough to make a living, obviously; More like being tipped, you know. I don’t focus on the earning as much as I probably should right now, because I have a couple of jobs I am crazy about.

    You post is valuable advice. Much like clutter clearing 😀 to be prosperous.

    Thanks, again, Felicia.

  • Alina Bradford September 2, 2011, 1:57 pm

    I have a few duds that I need to dump. Thanks for giving me the kick in the pants I needed. Always an inspiration, Felicia!

  • LilyRose September 5, 2011, 2:06 pm

    Felicia, I find this post incredibly wise and useful!

    I have the same stats – my “lost interest” blog keeps earning me decent money, so I’ve decided to keep it and update once in a while. The “all about love” blog is my new adventure, so we’ll see. Thanks for posting your stats – they make me feel like I’m doing something right 🙂

    Please advise: When do u think is the best time to go after advertisers via affiliate programs? I use Commission Junction. I’m waiting until I have 20-25 posts up to apply to advertisers on CJ. What do u think? What is your time frame? Should I be very visible in the search engines first? Also, any recommendations on another good affiliate program, besides CJ?

    Thanks so much!

    • Felicia September 6, 2011, 6:05 am

      LilyRose, the minute you find a product you wish to endorse is when you should apply to be an affiliate. As a matter of fact, when ever I find or use a product that I truly like, I go to the manufacturer’s website to see if they have affiliate programs. Most of the time they do through places like Commission Junction. Sometimes they don’t. When they don’t have affiliate programs, I write to the company to find out more about a potential affiliate relationship.

      I’ve never done well with affiliate programs like that, but it doesn’t stop me from using the affiliate links for products/services I truly like.

  • LilyRose September 6, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Great advice (as usual). Thanks Felicia 🙂

  • Edward G Gordon October 12, 2011, 5:00 am

    Hi Felicia, another top notch article. Unfortunately, it makes me only too aware that I have a few duds lying about myself. Mostly my own fault as I’ve been putting my attention into non-profitable projects.

    I guess this is a good reminder that we are here to make some money – the joy factor (love that phrase) makes it fun but if a site is not paying for itself then you’re right it’s time to go.

    I think I need to go and see which one’s I’m gonna keep and which I’m gonna let go.

    Thanks for the reminder Felicia – even though it hurts lol.

    • Felicia October 12, 2011, 7:02 am

      Every once in a while we need to do a little housecleaning. Ugh! I hate housecleaning! 🙂

  • Denise October 16, 2011, 5:25 am

    As someone just starting out and doing this mainly as a hobby, your post is quite inspirational. It’s given me some food for thought.

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