Is Disclosing Earnings Unprofessional?

Is Disclosing Earnings Unprofessional?

It’s not everyday that I read a blog article which I find so thought-provoking that I need to read it again. That is how I felt the other day when I read a post written by Armen on

His article entitled 5 vital elements of successful blogging was a great insight into how utmost professionalism is truly important in order to be a successful blogger.

Armen’s five elements for successful blogging include:

  1. A good grasp of language, and grammar
  2. Staying on topic
  3. Be tactfully friendly and helpful
  4. Be humble and modest
  5. The X-Factor

Armen raises some excellent points in that article, and one which especially rang true with me is whether disclosing online earnings is professional. Coincidentally, this is also a conversation I had with Anand the other day. Proponents of disclosing earnings say that it inspires others to achieve, and of course, is great link bait. In his 5 vital elements of successful blogging article, however, Armen makes a great observation – a successful blogger is also a humble blogger. He writes:

People might thrive on reading all about your earnings. But the fact of the matter is, it’s unprofessional in many ways. This is especially true when there’s a sense of bragging involved. Yeah, you might get big readers coming to see what last months revenue was, but unless it’s presented very tactfully, potential advertisers, employers, and other professionals, will not appreciate it.

My own argument against disclosing earnings comes back to the question of, “What audience are you blogging for and what is your purpose?” One of my original purposes in starting this blog was to attract both new bloggers and established professionals. It is generally the new bloggers who enjoy reading about others’ earnings – and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. Reading about others’ earnings does inspire many to set goals and work to achieve more, but the point is to live up to your OWN potential, not someone else’s.

My own compromise about discussing finances is that I will discuss earnings with someone on an individual basis, but, like Armen says, it feels unprofessional to blog about it.

I aspire to what the Marquis de Condorcet says: Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.

What do you guys think? Is it unprofessional to disclose earnings, or is it worth it in the hopes of inspiring others?

By the way, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out Armen’s blog – and subscribe to his RSS. Tell him Nate sent you.

32 thoughts on “Is Disclosing Earnings Unprofessional?”

  1. I agree with this, i don’t disclose my earnings on my blog… i brag about it all the time to my friends. I don’t only find it unprofessional to my blog readers, but also to members of the websites that i earn money from.

    However, I do want to disclose my earnings. As seen on John Chow’s blog, it’s inspired others. It’s made me read his blog much more. As you said, it depends on your readers.

    1. Josh,
      Thanks for the response. I completely agree with what you said. I am also very impressed with how succesful you have made your web sites in such a short period of time. Congratulations, friend, and good luck to you in the future!

  2. I actually enjoy reading what others earn because I really don’t know if I’m earning what I could from the traffic I’m generating. I would want to know if I was earning way more or way less than someone with a similar blog to mine. There is no wikipedia guide out there to tell you want you should be earning so reading loads of blogs helps collect a wide range of data.

    Also it’s fun to read blogs like Chow’s because it’s something to aspire to.

    1. Nathan,
      I can definitely see your point. I guess, like Josh said, it all depends on the nature of the blog to whether the earnings are relevant. Personally, I don’t talk very much about “earnings” on my blog, so I guess I see it as irrelevant. Thanks for your perspective.

  3. I think that disclosing your earnings is more of a personal choice than anything else, the risk vs. the personal-communal benefit. But regardless of whether you do it or not: Remember that ones opinions and insights should never be appreciated according to his earnings.


    1. Allen,
      It’s been a long time, buddy! Great to see you back in the ‘sphere! I checked out your blog recently — looks like you are up to some exciting new endeavors! We should chat it up when you get a chance! Take care, friend.

  4. I have a lot of respect for Armen.

    For me it would be unprofessional too.

    In saying that, if the focus of your blog is about making money (JC), or blogging as a career (problogger), do you think that there might be some necessity to say how much it’s possible to earn?

    I guess there’s a difference between how much it’s possible to earn, and exactly what you are earning.

    1. David, yes, I feel though as I am in the same boat. My blog is not focused on earnings, so I see it as unprofessional to blog about it. I see the different in speaking about the potential to earn, but exact figures do just seem irrelevant.

  5. To wake up to this post has been pleasant to say the least. Thank you very much Nate.

    As for the question; I didn’t mention JC, but he is obviously one of the most obvious that talks about the earnings of his blog. It works for him, there’s no doubt about it, but how many carbon copies are going to arise? Everyday, some reader of JC’s blog, starts their own “entrepreneur” blog with the Misty WordPress theme.

    To be honest, you’d nearly think if John was to start a cult religion, his service would be packed out from the first week. People are now going to be paying $10 or whatever, in order to have their comment links ‘DoFollowed’. It’s getting a little silly, but then what do I know. I like John, it’s his ‘followers’ that make me sigh.

    I think more people should look at Chris Garret as one to copy, if they’re really serious about utilizing their blog to make money.

    1. Armen,
      No problem – I am proud to mention your blog as one of my daily reads now. You write some insightful and well written content.

      You are right – there is no doubt that JC’s earnings bonanzas do work for him. As you said, there does seem to be many carbon copies arising who are only focusing on how much money their blog can make them instead of the more important benefits.

      Thanks for the comments, and great to have you in my community!

  6. For the most part, I think disclosing earnings of a blog is irrelevant to readers. In John Chow’s case, the blog focuses on making money, so he serves as his own case study- there it is relevant. On just about any other blog though, there is no benefit to doing so other than to inflate your own ego.

    1. Mike,
      I wholy-heartedly agree with you. Disclosing earnings all comes down to relevancy on the blog. Like I said before, on JC’s blog, it makes sense. On others, it just feels unnecessary.

  7. I agree with the idea of not disclosing actual dollar numbers. The only sites that need to do that are ones like the million dollar doubling type where the whole point is to track the progress towards a finite dollar goal.

    I wonder, though, if it would be valid for a general money making blog to discuss their earnings in ways that are more meaningful. I’m interested in knowing how a blog’s profit growth is across various income streams rather than the exact figures. I’m also interested in how such bloggers deal with slower growth or a decline in a site’s profits.

    1. Delani,
      You raise some interesting points. Do the exact dollar amounts really matter? I also agree that they are not as valuable as tracking the progress of different monetary streams. That makes me think – I wonder when we will see blogger’s income start to decline. I hope never, but what goes up, must come down.

  8. Good post Nate! Congrats!

    my opinion is that there isn’t statement which is always true. I mean that if disclosing earning is unprofessional to one it will be the perfect approach for others. just like many other things in web field there isnt a golden rule.

    its all depends what your aim is, and how you want to achieve it!

    Thanks again for the interesting reading!

    1. Ajaxus,
      Thanks for the kind words. You make a great point – “there isn’t a statement which is always true.” I agree with this – there are always exceptions. Like I mentioned before, I think context is very important when choosing what to blog about. Thanks for commenting.

  9. I have disclosed my earnings in numbers in one posts, and that is because a bunch of my returning readers has asked me to do so.
    But I can not understand why anyone would want to “show off” with displaying their daily average and such staticly on their blog, but maybe they see something that is good with that, I do not?

    // Andreas Bard

    1. Andreas,
      Thanks for the comments. Yes, I believe that showing off earnings, such as displaying it as a stat, is not exactly the right way to inspire others. It seems more like bragging in that sense. Thanks for the comments.

  10. I’m not sure that $1.98 is really anything to brag about 😉 If I ever started to make a significant amount, I would be pretty proud of myself and I would certainly want my friends and family to know. I don’t think I would publish it though. It wouldn’t be very relevant on my blog – which is about food. My readers would probably be more interested in how much weight I gained the week before, than how much money I earned!!

  11. I can see why some people would think it is unprofessional, but at the same time it brings more value than it takes away. Think about how many hundreds of people John Chow has inspired to blog and how many minds he has opened up to the possibility of making a full time living online. Most people would have no idea it is possible to make $11k+ per month from a simple blog. It pushes people to keep thinking and constantly innovate – I know it has pushed me.

  12. Personally, i’ve never big fan of telling people about how much I actually make. I know it can help motivate and show people that it can be done, but I rather have them guess.

  13. If your blog is about how to make money online then I don’t think it is inappropriate or unprofessional… I think it’s inspiring.

  14. Well said. I think it definitely all comes down to your audience as well as how relevant it is to your blog. I think the important thing is to do it with tact. I’ve seen a few blogs where the authors just seem to be bragging about the earnings, which turns me off. I never visit those blogs again.

  15. Anyone ever stop to ask why it is unprofessional to talk about your salaries. One of the usual ways to figure out reasons is to access who benefits and who loses by talking about salaries.

    My guess: it’s employers that don’t want employees to know how much each other make. Hence, they tell employees, don’t tell or we’ll fire you (it’s in many contracts).

    Perhaps if everyone talked about salaries/incomes, such discussions wouldn’t be such a problem as this one.

    Of course, some people feel this is ‘personal’ information.

  16. By the by, Nate. Do you post your income?

    I’m updating my list of blogger salaries right now.

    Just leave me a comment with the link to your latest income numbers if you do, humbly and respectfully, tell the blogging world how much you make.


  17. I think it definitely depends on how you feel about it. When you give someone hard numbers, they tend to be impressed if it’s a high figure.

    It can be inspiring to see how much money a site brings in, and it makes it easier to understand how what they are doing works. You can them try to emulate their success in ways.

    But all blogs are different as are the goals and personalities of the people running them, so that might be a downfall of the whole disclosing of your profits.

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