Picture of a mixer.

Let met get this statement out of the way up front… I don’t generally blog about blogging on my own site (my site is Don’t Quit Your Day Job…, for the record).  However, inspired by a recent profanity-ridden article in Cracked about the music business combined with a question in the incredibly-useful Yakezie forums I was obligated to pen this extended analogy and temporarily suspend my policy of avoiding metablogging.  That’s right… there are a lot of parallels between the music industry and this ego-driven internet business we’ve all dedicated precious brain cycles to figuring out!

So, dear reader/listener, allow me to present you with a serious (albeit sometimes snarky) look at how running a blog is like being in a band.

The Evidence is Undeniable!

Look – I can hear your groans without even hooking up your microphones to the stadium PA system.  You’re dubious I can make a solid argument.  Well, if you’re still listening after my sound check, allow me to make the case:


DQYDJ as a band logo.

The worst band acronym since R.E.M.!

Early Career

So, you decided to start a blog just as the Bizarro version of yourself started a band.  Congratulations!  You and Bizarro-you are now both attempting the same things:

  • You follow, re-tweet, guest post and comment everywhere trying to get a mention from anyone – other blogs, established blogs, mainstream media.  Your counterpart?  Sucking up to any music industry insiders, playing open mic nights, putting up fliers everywhere, and trying to get closer to beat reporters on the music scene – even some of those for smaller, sketchy (often free) music scene magazines.
  • You pump up any minor media mention on your site to anyone who will listen… a single statement in an article, a link, a citation.  The band?  Hyping any mention – even a single line in a newspaper saying they were the first of three opening performances for a local bar act.  (Better send it to grandma!)
  • You’re hungry, full of ideas and honest – you come charging into your blog with great ideas for articles, you produce thousands of words of awesome content with full citations and lots of careful math.  You write for the love of the game, hoping someone will notice your content… but channeling the raw emotion of the “common man”.  The musician?  Replace the preceding references to ‘blog’ and ‘articles’ with ‘songs’.

…(sidenote: if Blogs are just a shortened portmanteau of “Web” and “Log”, calling some of our sites ‘blogs’ is generous.  I like to think of my site as a slow-witted news and editorial site)…

Well, if you’re still writing articles at this point and you haven’t dropped out altogether (I know of no reliable stats on blog or band failure – but suffice to say, at some point, lacking massive success, many blogs and bands will fold), something happens:

  • Finally you get a significant media mention, or a post takes off on Facebook/Reddit/Twitter/some other arbiter of internet thought.  Your musical pal, in the meantime, was invited to cut a demo, or perhaps to open for a larger band.  You’re on your way!
  • Your early content as a newly successful blog?  Incredible.  You write inspired material due to your new motivation – not only are your early blogging toils still fresh in your mind (and deliver that same raw emotional content which got you where you now are!), but people are responding to what you’re saying and the world isn’t ignoring you anymore!  The band?  The perfect analogue is the first album – raw material based on life experiences, inspiring your early fans to think that you wrote your songs specifically for them.

Wow, congratulations!  You made it!


Enter the Cracked article, stage left!  Unfortunately, most stories from this part of the career are of the negative sort.  The music industry even has a word for this: “The Sophomore Slump”.

The blogger comparison?

  • Stepping Back from the Fans.  While you eagerly anticipated (and responded to!) early commenters, your articles now have a ton of comments.  You realize that even if you stop replying, your traffic statistics stay strong…
  • Reduced Outreach.  Yep, you stop trying so hard to network.  Commenting elsewhere?  Yeah right – you don’t even respond to your own commenters.  You stop participating in forums and discussions.  You can’t be bothered to seek out other interesting and useful sites.  You might even outsource some of the functions you did as a younger blogger.
  • General Detachment.  Jadakiss wrote an attack song about 50 Cent before 50’s second album summing up why his second album wouldn’t be as successful as the first – “And I don’t got a problem with clout.  You ain’t get shot again yet, so what’s your second album about?”.  Jada was suggesting that his more modest success means he’s more in touch with the difficulties of his own life and 50 Cent is now isolated from the very lifestyle that gained him fame in the first place.  It’s the same with blogging… the debt blogger now making significant money online and paid off debts?  The blogger who began angry at some company now taking advertising money?  Like Bono in the Cracked article, you don’t speak for the general public anymore.  (It’s a long way from Sunday, Bloody Sunday to Elevation).
  • Mailing It In!  Going over your writing with a fine toothed comb optimizing your SEO?  Spending more time checking search ranks than writing?  Accepting horribly inadequate guest posters?  Losing your editorial independence to sponsors?  Check them all off!  You’ve become formulaic.  You probably don’t think I can make a direct comparison to music here, which, of course, is nonsense.  There is software that exists which can judge a song’s pop potential. Earlier, Nirvana’s Verse Chorus Verse was a reference to boring, formulaic songsMeet the new writing for the algorithm, same as the old writing for the algorithm!  (My apologies to The Who)


You’re at a Crossroads once you’ve become a successful blogger/writer/social media rock-star.  Or, alternatively, you’re at a crossroads when you’re in studio for your fifth album.  (This Crossroads, not this one!)

  • Completely Sell Out?  Contribute to a Christmas Album?  Well, the fans that got you here never would have expected that… but hey, got to keep the fame machine pumping.  I suppose the analogue here is to give up the editorials, write light content with lucrative article subjects (Credit cards?  Current year retirement account contribution limits?).  Or, perhaps – literally selling your site fits here too, along with signing a non-compete and going to live on “$aturn”.
  • Give Back to the Community?  Mentor a small blog?  Allow a guest post?  Start replying to comments again?  This jives well with discovering small bands, allowing them to open for you, and giving back through charity shows and concerts or lending your name to a worthy project.
  • Break Up.  How many times do we see this?  Success changes bands, and it changes blogs – perhaps a bit of a taste of the big S causes you to doubt your early contributors or co-writers.
  • Crash Down to Earth – Perhaps your band never recaptured the spark, or people tuned out from your blog and you start to have issues.  Don’t fret; the upside is you now have new material that the common fan can relate to.  Re-invent!
  • The Greatest Hits Album! – Your band sells out shows, but you get boos when you play the new stuff.  You write articles on a new subject, but people tell you to write more of what you used to write.  Embrace it!

This all assumes, of course, no one is the blog equivalent of Nirvana.  Kurt Cobain’s suicide note contained a reference to the Neil Young lyric (in Hey Hey, My My) that “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”  I guess I can’t figure out a worthy equivalent – perhaps receiving blog accolades and quitting immediately?

Picture of a mixer.

Don’t use that auto-tune!

The Practical Takeaway

If you’re still reading 1,200 words later, I’m going to assume you’ve either been won by my argument, or assume that I’m going to emulate a musician’s drug-addled breakdown with the rest of this article.  Let’s hope it’s the former.

I’ve said before, that over 4 years of writing at DQYDJ that I’ve recognized that I’m not the world’s greatest blogger.  My writing is a solid B; it’s the areas secondary to the writing where it would be generous to toss me a D or a C-.  Even so, in four years you develop some good advice:

  1. Write for the yourself first, your fans second, algorithms and artificial intelligence a distant third.  Really, you want to write “what you would want to read”.  Why?  If you would read it, it means you’re interested.  Interest implies you’re motivated to write a quality piece.  I put fans second here – your fans can suggest topics you’d never consider alone, which will give you new ideas and inspiration.  As for writing for a piece of software?  Nothing is more fickle than code, and an algorithm can’t fall in love with your material.  Tread carefully… the algorithm will change!
  2. Concentrate on the social aspects of blogging.  Don’t make the mid-career mistakes!  If you have a little success, don’t draw inward and stop addressing your commenters or having fun on Twitter.  Continue to build your subscriber list – RSS and email.  Why?  It’s fun.  If you aren’t blogging for fun, find yourself a different hobby – you will not even make minimum wage for a long time.  The social parts of blogging – joking on Twitter, linking to other sites, commenting, even dissenting on posts you disagree with – those are the things that will keep you motivated.
  3. Ignore the haters.  Address and welcome the honest detractors.  You may always have detractors – that’s great!  There are two types of detractors – the honest type, who will use examples and fair arguments to discuss why you are wrong… and the haters. Haters gonna hate, but just make sure you can tell the difference between hate and dissent.  Oh, and never use massive advantages of size to ‘punch down’ – it makes you look petty.  Take the honest detractors seriously, and give them a fair hearing!
  4. Pay attention to Fleetwood Mac: “Go Your Own Way.”  Copying something exactly may be a great formula for the manufacturing industry, but it has no place in your blog.  There’s always a new path to take or a new angle on a topic.  Don’t plagiarize, but definitely find inspiration from the articles of other bloggers – and cite the articles you are responding to!  People love recognition – so toss them a bone.  This advice also applies to copying the path of a blog… “Well XXX now writes about credit cards and did a redesign.  Guess I need to do it too!”.  That?  Don’t do that.

Hmm… I guess I’m saying you should be like the metal bands in the Cracked article!  (And I’m no metal fan!)  Write about things that brought you the modicum of success in the first place.  When you’re in your fourth year… apply everything you’ve learned.  Just write like it’s still your first.

“I guess the money should’ve changed him.  I guess I should’ve forgot where I came from.”

You may disagree with me about which aspects of blogging are fun or enjoyable (or even interesting).  It doesn’t matter – even if you switch up a bit of the advice of a grizzled old blogger (4 years is like 16 blog years), don’t forget why you started your site.  Maybe you want to change prevailing attitudes?  Call attention to injustices?  Inspire policy ideas?   Whatever it was, take Kanye’s advice and don’t forget where you came from.

Now, this article was a fun diversion.  I may have written previously about music on my site, but most of my site looks a lot like this article about the S&P 500’s “actual” all time high.  So, yeah, I’m glad I got this out of my system.  Hopefully you enjoyed reading it… since I certainly enjoyed crafting it for you!


It’s been around six years since I started Financial Samurai and Yakezie and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. The online income stream has allowed me to pursue other more interesting things, such as consulting for various financial tech startups, traveling around the world, and spending more time with family.

I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with Bluehost. You never know where the journey will take you in 2015 and beyond!

Updated for 2017 and beyond