Aug 072011

The world’s favorite, crazy, southern fly fisherman, OWL Jones started a bit of a feud this week between the fishing community and millions of mommy bloggers.  It seems Owl is exploring new ideas for ways to monetize his fly fishing blog and in doing so wrote a post called “The Sleazy Side of Blogging”.  His post is calling out what Owl sees as an unfair tactic to making money on your blog .

While Owl is a great fishing blogger and buddy, neither him, nor I, nor many of you, will ever make a worthy sum of money on our fishing blogs.

Born this way

Here’s five reasons why your fishing blog will never make money:


1.  90% fishing passion

Passion is at the heart of all great works of literature.  You love fishing and you love telling the world about fishing.  Good for you.  While you may be an amazing author, you aren’t going to make money.

If blogging were your only source of income, you would die a poor deprived fisherman, rod in hand, pocket full of sinkers, DOWN BY THE RIVER.

If you write your blog with 90% passion and 10% business sense, you may as well hang up your aspirations of ever making money.  You can be a phenomenal outdoor writer but if you don’t spend 50% of your time working on “ethical” ways to monitize and promote your blog, you have a hobby not a source of passive income.


2.  Trying to make money feels dirty

What is an “ethical” way of making money?  Do you feel dirty about posting affiliate links or placing banners on your site?  DON’T.  Making money should never feel sleazy.  As long as you’re not harming anyone else or being dishonest, you DESERVE to get paid.  Add up the hours that you spend working on your site, taking pictures, and writing content.  The time you’ve spent working on your site is time you didn’t spend with your family, working a second job, or fishing.

I make it a point to click ads on sites that I read because I know money will go into a writer’s pocket.  That writer has sacrificed their time to make the content I enjoyed and they deserve the .20 cents a click will bring.

How does the real world work?  Head on over to your favorite news source, are there ads?  YES.

Not even good ads...

ads aren't dirty

Top tier news sources that millions of people turn to every day run ads and no one cares.  I’ve even seen news sites like Fox News work ads inbetween their “fair and balanced” content to the point where you can’t tell the difference between news and an ad.  And you’re worried about placing a small banner ad?

My point here is this:  People expect to see ads.

Making ads and affiliate links unobtrusive and relevant will eliminate any pain for your readers and in some cases may even help them find something new.

I’ve tailored the Google ad on this page to serve mostly outdoor related ads.  Is it over the top?  No.  If you’d like help doing this on your site let me know.


3.  You have an addiction to fishing

Hi my name is Matt, I’m a Functioning Fishaholic.  While I can’t tell you how to fix this problem, I can tell you about my life.  I fish three or more days a week.  I spend countless hours reading posts and engaging the fishing community on social media.  I tie flies, I make my own lures, and at least once a week I shop for new fishing gear.  I think about fishing when I eat, when I sleep, and yes even when I poop.

Sound familar?  If you are anything like  me you may think to yourself, “gee how do I ever focus on making money on my site, I have all of this great content to post!”

Guess what?   If you spend all of your time being a fisherman you won’t have any time left to make money on your site.  What’s worse, all that “awesome content” is probably made up of daily updates most people don’t even care to read.

Try this:  Take one night a week and focus on monetizing your site.  Once you start getting paid for your efforts I can almost guarantee the quantity of your posts will go down but the quality will go way up.


4.  You write for your fans and not strangers

Do only a few loyal blogger buddies get your jokes?  Are the same 10 people always leaving comments?  Perhaps you are writing for your fans and not branching out to new readers.  It’s easy to stick to what you know.  Look at my page, most of the posts are average fishing reports that talk about the same bodies of water and the same old crap.  BORING!

Make a habit of shaking things up on an constant basis.  Take a look at Troutrageous!, Mike makes a healthy habit of throwing in what he calls “utter nonsense”.  His posts include sports, technology, hot chicks, and a healthy dose of fishing.  His variety keeps people coming back for more.

Readers eventually get tired of field reports and fish porn.

Mix your topics up a little:  Write a post that teaches something, do a product review, interview someone.  Make a habit of keeping your readers off guard.  Mix it up and more people will come.  More traffic  = more opportunity to make money.


5.  You don’t write about making money online

OK this one isn’t your fault.  Ever notice that the people who claim to make the most money online are the ones who write about how to make money online?  Take the website, Pro Blogger for example, it is full of great information.  The author Darren Rowse is an awesome writer with a HUGE collection of information on monetizing your blog.

Let’s look at his business model:  Every blogger would like to make money | Most bloggers will research how to make money online | Some bloggers will even buy info and eBooks on monetizing their blog.  <- See what he did here?

Lesson:  Create things that are useful to your readers.  Don’t be afraid to invent a non-traditional business model.  If it provides value to you, someone else in the world will pay for it.  Innovation = $


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.  I know it is light on pictures and heavy on information.  So as a reward, leave a comment below and I’ll email you a PDF of over 100 of my personal ideas and resources for making money on your fishing blog.  Yes I’m giving away my precious cache of ideas for making money online but I don’t care.  

Image from

Post a comment for my free guide

Times are hard.  If I can help a fellow fisherman feed his family it is worth more to me than a little extra $$ in my pocket.  Leave me a comment – get the guide.



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  • Oh man, you kinda stole my thunder for the post I have scheduled for tomorrow…

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Sorry (: Let me know once you post something and I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post.

  • Excellent post. Totally agree with you on all of the above.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics


  • Steve

    How true. Unless you treat a blog like a job, it isn’t going to be anything more than a hobby.

  • What’s the big deal? You guys are like a bunch of schoolgirls, but your points are all great.

    My blog makes money. And not in ads. But the money it makes is absolutely DWARFED on the side of the ledger that says “debits.” Because I buy gear. Because I buy gas. Because I go to all my awesome fishy bloggy adventures in a truck with a $400/month payment. For every $100 rod that a retailer or manufacturer floats me, I’m going to buy 2 or 3 more at full price (or nearly full price).

    So overall, you are totally right – it’s pretty impossible to make net income with a fishing blog unless someone is covering your airfare, ground transportation, gas, meals, computer, camera equipment, and at least 50% of your fishing gear. And at that point, you’re a professional angler who blogs. Not a fishing blogger.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      I’m trying not to look at the cost of the hobby in my balance sheet… (:

  • I have a number of web sites that make money. I spent a few hours setting them up, and they have made me money for years, with no other effort on my part. Blogging however is compleatly different. My hunting blog takes much more of my time than any static web site has, and I have failed to monitize it at all. Zero dollars. I would love some more ideas, I know what works for web sites does not work for bloggs.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Interesting take on static websites vs. blogs. I’m going to have to look into this more.

  • I’d comment, but I’m speechless about what a well formed post this is. Interestingly, it’s also relatively free of affiliate links or stuff I could randomly click on to make YOU money. That’s a shame, my trigger finger was ready.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      It’s cool, I think I owe you some payback at this point in the game anyway. (:

  • I agree that there’s no crime in making a few bucks on your blog, but when it starts to look like Times Square from all the ads, that turns people off. And if you start making huge $$ on the side from something you supposedly love, then it starts to sound like college football. Keep in mind, they came there first for the content.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Very true. I think subtle, honest, and transparent are the way to go!

  • Great post, and you’ve absolutely hit the target with some of those points. That said, you don’t have to lose or sacrifice your passions to make money on your blog. You can easily go the route of google ads, they’re targeted to your audience and relevant, they’re easy to setup and you can (hopefully) sit back and let the income trickle in. You really have to do very little work, but these ads say only one thing about you and its that you’re trying to monetize your site. That’s not a bad thing either. Writing a blog takes a lot of time and work, updating frequently, engaging your audience, maintaining your site, domain costs, hosting costs, bandwidth costs, software costs… It all adds up, over the last 7 years Ive easily spent thousands of dollars on my site, and probably 10 times as many hours.

    Believe me when I say that I would love nothing more than to make more money on my site, I would be ecstatic to make enough money to break even on hosting costs every month. The idea of making enough to do it full time seems like a fairy tale. But Im not giving up- and I won’t sacrifice my integrity on the way.

    I’ve spent my time working on building relationships with people, companies, manufacturers etc. This is not easy, it takes a long time, and it takes a lot of effort. You’ll probably fail to make a connection that actually brings you income 9 times out of 10. And income doesn’t always mean money, maybe it’s products to review or for giveaways, I treat these all the same (cause I probably would have bought it anyway given the chance). But when you do make that connection with a company that shares your ideals and standards you can both really succeed in marketing each other. There are no ads (sponsors) on my sites to products or companies that I don’t believe in, and in this way you’re seeing more than just ads- you’re seeing my personal opinions and recommendations. Like many of the bloggers in our little sphere our sites represent us, they are us, and I feel like some of that is definitely lost in google ads and even to an extent other “outdoors targeted” affiliates.

    Whatever you do- do it your own way and do it with integrity.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Thanks for the comment! You are about 6 years ahead of me in the game but hopefully my PDF will pass along a few ideas. I can’t wait to hear some feedback!

      • A few things I would add to this pdf- viglinks/driving revenue, outdoorsy ads, opensky project. I’ve had a varying degree of success with each, but someone might find it better than I did.

  • The Functioning Fishaholics

    Thanks for the feedback so far guys! It means a lot that I have such a positive reaction within such a short time! I’ve emailed my PDF to all of you. Please let me know if you don’t receive it within a day or so.

  • I’m fairly early into my blog, but I’m seeing some return already. Though it’s not profit–Jonathon Marshall points out what that takes in his fine comment–it is a return. I think I’m experiencing this for two reasons.
    One is branding. I use the moniker @ifishwrite on Twitter and have developed a reasonably strong following there and of course that profile lists my blog url. I also consult through Linkedin under my name Dwayne Parsons. I’m a public relations expert and a lot of what I do there has nothing to do with fishing, but my Twitter feeds into the Linkedin site as it does my Facebook presence.
    Furthermore, I include my blogsite url on my business card and proffer it nearly everywhere I speak or network. This is branding. Though my blog is less than 9 months in the listing I see revenue coming in through Google ads and through website assistance and book engagements I make in this attraction of contacts.
    I am full time as a writer and certainly anticipate books sales through the site in a very short while. I just got back from a signing of Flying Over Rainbows, Keokee Publishing.
    The second primary reason I am seeing a return is because I write fresh, original content on my site. I bring value and insight, hopefully, into the experience of fishing and all that’s related.
    These things add up. Cashing in on them is only wisdom at work. Bring your passion to the table with integrity and you rightfully receive the financial rewards that follow. The rest is just business savvy.
    I’m now on your RSS feed. You’ve got a great touch on your site. I like your blend of humor with honesty and obvious passion. Count me in on your Twitter follow list as well. We’ve got larger fish out here in Idaho than you’re able to catch where you live, but you’re fishing and writing about it and that’s all that counts. Maybe we can arrange to fish together sometime.

  • I feel that way about my computer sometimes

  • i totally enjoyed reading your blog!
    Thank you.

  • One thing that helps me make a few dollars online, is sprinkling a few product related posts here and there. Searching online for reviews is often the last step a consumer takes before deciding to buy a product. Articles about products will give you targeted readers from the search engines. Targeted consumers are more likely to click ads and affiliate links. So, every time you buy a rod, reel, tackle box, etc. be sure to write a review of that product.

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      Great suggestion. On top of helping you make money it also helps your fellow anglers figure out what to buy.

  • thanks for the insights! will be chewing on these…

  • Pingback: Outdoor Blogger Tips: When Will Your Blog Grow Up?()

  • Jason Tucker

    I don’t know if you’re still handing out your 100 ideas.  I would like my site to at least pay for itself, and maybe some camera gear.  I found this post from reading the recent OBN on post on the same subject.  I’ve tried to have  a plan, but in a recent inventory of my site was depressed at how much crap I’d posted that bored me to tears.  On the upside, my goal was to be published in magazines- check.
    You can send it to notyomonky@gmail.comJason TuckerFontinalis Rising

    • You got mail!  Let me know how you like it.

  • Good read.  My little blog has made a little bit of money, but mostly it has provided me with some amazing opportunities and it has done that because I have put a lot more time into it than would be considered reasonable or wise by most people.  In a pure dollars-for-time way, I’m in the red.  In a richer-life way, I’m way, way in the black.

    I’ve learned a few things… 1. don’t be negative, 2. update frequently and dependably, 3. respond to comments, reach out to readers, invite opinions and perspectives. 

    • Good lessons there!  Some experiences you can’t buy.  I’ve connected with so many great fishermen and writers since I started this page.  Sharing in their adventures and writing my own make it all worthwhile.

  • Truchacabra

    Right now, I’m just enjoying the network of fishing information that’s starting to form around my blog, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make money at it. To be fun, good blogging requires work, which takes time, which I don’t have a lot of that I can give away for free. I appreciate the tips.

  • Great collection of advice

  • Great post!  I agree completely.  I’m a businessman first and a fisherman second.  Sadly, I know that’s not the norm.  I totally agree about the ads too.  People have to realize that most ways of making money are not unethical as long as it’s a voluntary transaction and it’s not fraudulent.  If it’s a voluntary transaction, what most people don’t realize is that BOTH parties “profit”.  Otherwise there would be no exchange.  Don’ t get hung up on money issues.  

    • Well said.null

  • Oh, I’d like a free guide too if you’re still giving them out. .  Thanks.

  • Sdcoutdoors

    Excellent points! I’m an old outdoor writer who started the old fashioned way doing a column in the local paper and then moving up to some freelancing to small state and regional mags. Even back in the day, you had to pay attention to “self-marketing.” Since I have been out of the game for a while, I thought I might try my hand at blogging and trying to make a few extra dollars. That’s how I came across your site. Thanks for the info! (Hope you’re still sending out the pdf’s)

  • Scott Johnson

    Great post and some great ideas! I like your writing style. Would love to get a copy of your 100 Ideas

  • I started searching for ways to monetize my site and your site came up second.  I have to totally agree with  you on the passion versus money thing.  I’ve tried adsense, affiliate banners, etc and I am now searching for help.  If you would be kind enough to send your pdf to I’m embarrassed to say I have 4 fishing sites and non of them earn enough to buy you a cup of coffee.

  • Dha1991

    I just began my own blog to include not only old photos of my hometown but also about my creek wading of over 45 years. I need all the help you can supply. You are really cutting out all costly time that would be wasted by trying something that you have already found to be negative . Please send the PDF thanks.   Butch Adams

  • That was a good read with some really good information. No one should ever be afraid to get paid for working on their blog. If it has value then it deserves cash.

  • jason

    This is the 3rd time ive read this now, would be greatful for your guide, thanks

  • Bruce Edward Litton

    This is an excellent post. Great information. Great Entertainment. And when I think about it, having ads on my blog will give it more authority. People see that and it doesn’t detract. It assures them that I’m an insider.

  • Bruce Edward Litton

    But how do I sign up as a member of your blog subscribe by email? You can reach me through Litton’s Fishing Lines if you want.

  • ScubaPath

    Any chance you are still this info out? Thanks.

  • Scott Converse

    You Nailed it! Great article.

  • TightLines

    Thanks for the reality check…. I’m curious as to what you think is the most likely way a fishing blog could be monetized successfully. Develop solid traffic and then sell advertising? Affiliate commissions? Or…?
    Thanks! If you’re still sharing your 100 tips, please email me a copy

  • Mark Wells

    I want to make money to buy fishing gear, take more fishing trips, buy more fishing gear and take more fishing trips! I like what you wrote and enjoyed it. I wish for you to get rich so you can fish more and have more stories to tell!

  • Freshwaters Journal

    You definitely made a point! Great article.

  • You make a very interesting point. Ive had several fishing blogs and like you said I have never made any money except the chump change from adsense. I just recently started learning how to use SEO and understand it. It seems like it is working. I am getting more impressions but not not many clicks.Im learning to write better and its actually fun instead of “having to do it to make money”. I would like to make money but my goal right now is to gain PR rank and have people coming to me paying me to advertise on my site. FOr example if you look on fiverr dot com there are unbelievable jobs available for SEO all for 5 bucks. check it out sometime.

  • wow I never realized this post was this old.

    do you still have the list of ideas? lol

    • The Functioning Fishaholics

      hahaha YEA I turned off dates when our content started getting a little stale. (: Let me take a look. I’ll go on record and say that if I have it you’ll be the last one I ever send it to.

  • Coty Adami

    Currently building a start up website/blog. I love fishing so much that I’m basically doing it to share the knowledge and techniques to help others have the same success I’ve had on the water. With that said, I’m always up for trying to pocket a little more “fishing” money!

  • Ray Okoyo

    Hi Matt, I’m starting out as a blogger in the industry. I was reading about blog monetization strategies before bumping into your post. Appreciated post mate! I could use your tips though uncertain if you’re still sending it out. Let me know – or just send to

  • Brian

    I have been trying to come up with good ways to make a little xtra money and just started to look into starting a fishing blog today. I have lots to earn I can tell already. I would love a PDF of your 100 ideas.

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