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Blogging for Dollars

Will blogging produce millionaires? Can blogging financially provide people with a full time earning capacity? Will we see more and more professional bloggers blogging for dollars? Can and should blogs earn money?

An increasing amount of people are writing about making money from Blogging. There is a quite a bit of debate about the legitimacy of doing so.

Megnut wrote an interesting article titled Blogging for Dollars: Giving Rise to the Professional Blogger . She writes:

Most financial discussions focus on blog content and explore donations, advertising, or some type of sponsorship/patronage model as the means to compensate bloggers. Very little progress has been made towards finding viable economic models because people still think of Weblogs as personal sites. If you aren’t Andrew Sullivan (who purportedly makes $6,000 per month on his site through donations), it’s hard to imagine how you’d get the traffic and donations to generate such revenue….

By paying great bloggers to produce Weblogs, we remove economic constraints and enable them to devote their energies full-time to producing compelling content and creating outstanding Weblogs.’

Whether you agree with it or not – here are some of the ways bloggers are going earning money from their blogs.

Advertising – An increasing number of bloggers are running advertisements on their blogs. Programs like Blog Ads have popped up around the place which help you find advertisers. Of course these programs generally take a cut of the revenue earned. Other bloggers (often the bigger ones) find their own advertising or use a combination of their own and other programs. Nick Denton from Gawker Media is one person who seems pretty good at doing this on his numerous successful blogs.

Market Banker is another program similar to Blog Ads that lets you sell ads through their system automatically. They allow both banner and text ads. I have used these successfully on my Digital Camera site. You do give up a cut of the revenue to Market Banker, but for ease of use and the receiving of smaller payments this is a good option. Another text link option that I’ve used with quite a bit of success lately is Text Link Ads.

coverPrograms like fastclick.com also offer to serve ads to your site. If you have a lot of traffic this is a great option definately worth considering as many of their ads pay per impression. I’ve reviewed the fastclick system here.

Also worth checking out is the Chitika eMiniMalls system which have become my biggest blog income earner. You can read my review of Chitika eMiniMalls here.

AdsenseGoogle Adsense is one advertising tool that many are using (including me). Ads are run depending upon the content of the page. If you flick through my individual archives you’ll see that each page has a different focus of ad.

Google pays people who run their ads per click on the ads. Payments vary on the type of ad. I started using this two months ago. Part of the agreement in signing up with the program is that you don’t talk about your specific results and figures so I’ll refrain from that except to say that I’ll never become rich through it – but that I’ll continue to go with it. To do well with this program you either need to have very high traffic or blog on topics that pay well. Some of the following links talk about using adsense and other such programs.

- Adsense Tips for Bloggers (a series of posts about maximizing the potential of Adsense on your Blog).
- Blogging for Dollars with Adsense
- How to Boost your Adsense Revenue
- Introducing Google Adsense
- Nick Denton on Adsense

Amazon Associates – Other bloggers are Amazon Associates. In this program bloggers link (either via text, images or actual advertisements) to Amazon products or pages. If people purchase after following these links they take a small comission from Amazon, either for cash or gift vouchers. Blogs liks Blogcritics use this very intentionally. It is a system I’ve been trialing (mainly on my digital camera blog) recently. I have found it to be a worthwhile move to be an Amazon affiliate – its not my biggest revenue stream, but supplements Adsense nicely and is growing with my blog. I like it because you have complete control over what products you will promote and can tailor ads to fit exactly with your content.

Other Affiliate Programs
By no means is Amazon the only affiliate program available to bloggers. There are many affiliate programs that focus on different regions and products. Some pay a percentage of income generated from those being referred from your site, others pay on a per click basis, others pay for leads. The success of such programs tends to vary depending upon the match between your blog and the type of product your affiliate is offering. I’ve tried a number of programs but am yet to find them to be overly successful to this point.

Some affiliate programs that you may wish to experiment with include:
- Clix Galore
- Affiliate Sensor (I’ve found this one works pretty well for me so far).
- LinkShare.com – This one works well for me also.

coverBusiness Blogging – An increasing number of people are starting ‘business blogs’. These take a variety of forms but generally are blogs about a particular service, product or business/organization. Check out the following articles on the topic.

- Blogs may be the cheapest way to communicate with your customers.
- New biz on the blog
- Business Blogs – The Big List
- The Small Business Blog

Tip Jars – Other bloggers have decided to simply ask their readers for donations. I know of many bloggers that do this through a variety of tools – the most popular of them being ‘PayPal’. I surveyed a few this week and most have never or only rarely had donations – but for others like it is a major source of income. Andrew Sullivan is said to have made $80,000 in his last pledge week through donations. Here are some links that talk about it.

- Tip Jars
- Andrew Sullivan – Will Blog for Cash

Other Interesting links that talk about different approaches that you might want to check out might include:

- Gold Blogger – How to Make Money from your Blog
cover- Blogging Network – get paid to blog
- Blogging for Bucks – an interview with someone who does
- The rise of professional bloggers
- Paid Content
- Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content
- Blogonomics – Making a living from Blogging
- Jeff Jarvis – The Free Me

Different earning methods will suit different blogs depending upon content, readership levels and the goals of the blogger concerned.

Predictions & Observations

Is it possible to make money from blogging? I believe so. Will there ever be ‘millionaire bloggers’? I suspect it will happen in the next few years. Will people earning a living from blogging be as common as people earning livings from plumbing, stock brokering or gardening? I’m not so sure.

Blogging has the potential to generate income – but I believe it will only be a select few who will be able to make their fortune (or even earn a full time income) purely through blogging. A few very creative entrepreneurs, good marketers and powerful communicators will make it big but the average joe shouldn’t expect to set themselves up for retirement through blogging.

I think we’ll see the rise of people who are able to supplement their income through the medium. Personally I would love to be able to get to the stage or earning a day or two a week from it (anyone want to advertise in this space?) to support my other work in the community. I also think that we’ll see more and more people earning enough to pay their blogging costs through some of the above means.

coverI suspect we’ll also see more people earning money off blog related tools and products. They may not technically be blogs as such – but if blogging continues to grow at the rate it has been (and as it is predicted to) a ‘blogging industry’ (of sorts) is likely to emerge. This will include blog consultants, blog tools, blog search engines, blog designers etc. (all of these things already exist – but with increased numbers of bloggers they are likely to start paying off). This will probably distress some blogging purists but it will happen.

Clusters/colonies of bloggers working together in alliances will emerge – not just because they have common interests to blog about – but so that they can work together to market and promote one another.

Dangers – In summing up my thoughts I think it worth saying that there are perhaps some dangers in blogging for dollars. The concern that I share with others is that in the quest to earn money from blogging that content could suffer. Balance is needed to keep advertising from dominating and setting the agenda for content.

Blogging for dollars is here to stay – it will continue to stay on and climb the agenda for bloggers everywhere. Its therefore something that I feel is important to discuss and I’m interested in what others might think about it – please feel free to critique or add to this post in comments – your opinion is highly valued.

Millions of dollars in online sales every day. Get your share.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jon says:

    I think there is a type of Blog that is a hybrid of opinion and specific (highly targeted) content that is a space where there is better than part-time money to be made. From what I have heard if you want to Blog on mobile phones, podcasting, voip or other hot topics, and you can stick on topic then you have the chance to highly monetize your efforts. Whether or not that is within the spirit of a blog or not…that’s up to debate.

  2. Jon Berg says:

    Earning money from blogging could possible work if you sell blogs or your own time to as a writer to big organisations. The organisation needs to have a huge audience. For the business plan I think the only way to make money is to have people pay for your services. Advertising needs such a big traffic volume to pay off.

  3. Jonas Diego says:

    I just wanted to say that this was a very interesting article and I got a lot of great ideas from it. :)

  4. Ted M. says:

    I’m a writer and blogger (www.metroblog.blogspot.com), here ‘cos I’ve landed a pro blogging gig–I create the content and manage the site for BLive. It’s at the limit of my current abilities, but those are moveable boundaries, and it’s terrific to have found a place where the grand issues get some serious consideration.

    Much of what I struggle with is the pr/blog interface. I’m enthusiastic about the product, which helps. But sometimes I have to edit very tightly to stay “pure”. My boss was very helpful there: told me to write what I wanted, pretty much.

    Right now I’m trying to get on top of the tech aspects, but the important thing is that I’m a professional writer, getting a decent (starting) contractor’s wage for the work.

    Re. Jon’s comment: The failure of this style of business plan is that it requires the writer to substitute for insider status (the thing that makes all those Microsoft blogs so interesting) with intense research. Still, it’s a new business yet.

    Good luck and happy blogging to all.

  5. Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks for a very well thought out piece. Many great ideas here.

  6. Ben says:

    Great article!
    As Jon said, a paid service would be the best business model to undertake. Making it in a niche market with specific ‘how to’ information for the niche.

  7. JErm says:

    If you’re popular to start with it doesn’t hurt to get a side income from blogging. But if you’re a nobody most likely you’ll spend more than you earn trying to make a few cents off your blog. I’ve tried most of what you listed above, and I’m still a poor blogger. I’d say AdSense is the way to go if you have good content that people would starve for more everytime. Keep them coming back and get them clicking.

  8. Rick Carruth says:

    I run ads on my blog, but I don’t allow the ads to interfere with the content. People want purity. They want political parties without politics, relationships without rage, consumer goods without credit, and blogs without ads.

    They want – but they learn to accept.

    If there is a dollar to be made with blogs, we will disclose the means and ways and make use of it until our readers set the parameters, and then we will scale back to a level that’s a comfortable compromise to both sides. That’s just the way it always works…

  9. Riverman says:

    Great overview of the revenue opportunities out there for bloggers – I just wanted to chip in that Blogger provides some good tips on how to place AdSense in their blog templates. Took me about 5 minutes…
    http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=964&query=adsense&topic=0&type=f

  10. Stephanie says:

    I think blogs are useful as secondary products that promote a primary; my blog, The Daily Vegetable isn’t lucrative on its own merits, but establishes a platform for me to promote my vegetable supplements. Have only been at it a few months, so we’ll have to see how useful it actually turns out to be.

  11. Thank you for the informative article. I found it very useful and I think I will be using some of that info on my blog.

  12. M. A. Grace says:

    7-7-05

    Found your article in my research of “blogging.” I am interested in starting a site for blogging in a specific area of interest. I really do not care about making money right now and want the site to be free to anyone who wants “speak” to my topic. I have been writing for pleasure for years with only friends and grandchildren reading my thoughts. Someone is always telling me I need to be published however I never found a publisher who agreed. Ho Hum…I do have things to say however.

    So says charlie 84…

  13. Taylor says:

    One method for AdSense calculus here is to determine which companies are advertising via Google and then create blogs that draw people who might be buyers for those kinds of products. One of the earliest AdSense case studies is the guy doing a blog on personal video recorders. I don’t know how he is doing now, but his formula — a product-centric blog — created a potential buying usership (plus industry analyst types who NEED to know), and thus an increasing number of ad clickers.

    His own description of this experience was that he started the blog based on his own personal interest, dropped in some AdSense code expecting nothing, and was then delighted to find AdSense delivering $$ (the time-honored “let’s see what happens” method of web success).

    But then that is surely a cold, calculating method for seeking financial blogging success. It is in fact a publisher’s mentality: where is a market that needs information on where to spend its money? I’ll create an editorial product for them, but more importantly I’ll create a path to them for the advertisers. With blogs and AdSense, a blogger can focus him or herself on the content and let Google create the paths for the advertisers.

    But if earning a living is your goal, relying on such passive ad selling is an inexact, inefficient, incomplete way to create income around one’s blog. If you are attracting the critical 100 or 500 people in the vertical, the sellers will be open to hearing from you if they are also potential buyers. Their question will be: “Is that 100 all there is? Can you grow beyond that?” In any of these vertical spaces there will be an inherent cap in numbers and in growth rate; something to be aware of (if nearly impossible to determine!)

    Two cents expended…

  14. Steve says:

    You can also let people buy advertising space directly from you using AdBrite. It’s a nice way to let those that read your site and are aware of your reach purchase ads.

  15. Casey says:

    I would also like to make money from blogging. I want to have fun making the money, though. I think that for most of us bloggers, we’ll keep doing what we do whether anybody pays us money or not. I’m experimenting with different ways of making money, but in the end, I’ll do it for free if I have to.

  16. Blog with sense. No show off just facts and hints.
    No waiste of time. Useful for my own plan o crate a webblog.

    I believe blogs will have a future. If consultant already are
    appearing on the scene, then you know there is something
    going on.

    In my opinion it will have the power like the french revolution.
    We will exchange the manipulating power in an pieceful way.
    Our weapons will be creativity and our brain. If we combine it
    with humanity and love we only can win for more harmony.

    To far gone? Use your imagination….

  17. D. Campbell says:

    One of the previous comments basically hit the nail on the head. Ads can be a good thing for blogs as long as they don’t interfere with the content. A niche blog knows that his visitor base wants the information more so than his advertisements, so you don’t want to hinder that.

    D. Campbell
    Webmaster
    http://www.AWESOMEBODS.com

  18. I don’t think “blogging for money” should be looked down upon as so many people seem to.

    Is it any different than a painter taking a commission? A singer performing for an exclusive audience? A writer being contracted to write a particular topic?

    Getting paid a bit of money to blog lets me explore my passions, express myself, and have some fun. Sure I could blog anyway – but being able to work on it full time instead of making profit for someone else would be a dream.

  19. I’ve found that “the more simple it is, the better it works”
    and have experimented with dozens of blogs with great
    looking templates and numberous forums,
    none of which made more than $100.00 a month.

    Finally I decided on a very simple format that is beginning to
    make a few dollars (and growing daily) that is centered
    around a very tight niche that almost has no competition at this
    point with information that is very much sought after.

    I don’t use adsense (never will because I believe it takes away
    from your own potential to make MORE money).

    I recommend using affiliate programs that are tightly associated
    with your area of interest and promoting a very select few of them
    on your blog.

    See how “simple” looks, with a url that is placed well on the
    SE’s and is syndicated well after only a few months.

    Templates and information presentation don’t get any simpler than this; http://www.rss-email.net/rss-email

    Good Luck and happy hunting!
    Lars

  20. Lora says:

    A little bundle of joy has just burst into my life, and nothing will ever be the same.

    The first time I heard about blogging was when I watched the “60 Minutes”. Amazed by its power. But, I never go into it until this summer school break. Bored with meaningless. Then, I started my first blog in June.

    I agree with Darren, you really need to find something that you are passion about. I was scketching my ideas and themes in first month in June. Try and error. Finally, I came up with the thing that I like- online shopping and treasure hunt!

    The Google adsense program is very temptating. But, I decided to reduce the size of the google ads so that it will not look too commercial. (Even though I need the money to pay my Fall tution fee). Moreover, I learn a lot by reading others’ blogs and new blogging techology. It is fun!

    When my friend asked me what I have been up to in the summer, I told her that I took a summer course-”Intro to Blog”

    It is just too much to share … …

  21. chris dillon says:

    Thanks for a great article. I just discovered your site and I look forward to digesting all the great information and comments.

    I agree with “Clusters/colonies of bloggers working together in alliances will emerge – not just because they have common interests to blog about – but so that they can work together to market and promote one another.” I hope this factors in predominantly in blogfuture.

    I have been constantly amazed at how people use the internet to simply connect to other people.

  22. Congratulations – i also want to learn to do good blogs
    - i really want to start asap.

    i hope you can start a section for newbies and provide lots of advice.

  23. Vishnu says:

    Awesome blog, helps many starters like me understand the system.
    I like your writing style as well Darren..
    Keep up the good work. I’ll keep coming back for more.

  24. joslynrose says:

    wow! awesome site, i agree with ReadyCompanies… you should definitely start a section for newbies! i’ll definitely be looking for updates, thank you!

  25. www.brf.dk says:

    Newbie section recommended. Even “competent” readers like me :) can get nice value from the newbie-sections
    Rgds.
    http://www.brf.dk

    äCÖB

  26. Jon says:

    Thanks for a lot of usefull information.

  27. Dave Starr says:

    Very good run down, Darren. I don’t think some people realize just how much knowledge you are actually sharing here … you could easily have packed it into an ebook or some such and monetized it .. but the thing which has attracted me to follow your journey is the genuineness and generosity you show .. a refreshing difference to some now inhabiting the blogosphere.

    And if I may take on a little of the administrative burden, unbidden..

    To those folks begging/nagging about a beginners section … the old, before WWW internet phrase applies, modified to suit the web .. RTFP .. Read The Foolish Page .. there’s chapter after chapter of content right before your eyes on the home page of http://www.problogger.net how many headings have you clicked on? I’ve been reading every day for a month off this site and haven’t come to the end yet … much is geared to the beginner and intermediate .. click, read and ye shall find.

    Best regards
    Dave

  28. Darren, thanks for your insights on the viability of blogging as a profession. I’m a month-old blogger (at Business Blog Wire) for a month-old business blog network called Know More Media, and only time will tell if we fall flat on our faces or soar sky high. (After seeing what’s happened over the past few days to Open Source Media, I’m a little nervous!) Call us just another case study, then, in this great Experiment that is blogging for dollars (whether Australian or American)! I firmly believe it can be done while making the world a better place with one’s blog. You’re proof of that.

  29. real says:

    Your article very useful and thanks.

  30. Jimmy Young says:

    I believe blogging requires Good Contents.

    Good contents will then turn to Good Readership.

    Good readership turns to Questions Seekers.

    Questions seekers turns to Google Adsense.

    I am not a good blogger but each day I will try to devise new ways and hopefully have all the time in the world to write a good contents.

    Especially taking a few lessons and learning from this one great sites. I did quit all my (real life) posts after evaluating all risks and learned a few lessons from Darren (The Man himself)… Thanks Darren, You are the great example for all Pro Bloggers and Pro Blogger wanna be like me.

    God Bless You and Australia!

  31. i learnt a lot from your blog. thanks.

  32. CyberWyre says:

    Another good one (sorry if I am repeating, I didn’t see it listed anywhere) is Text Link Ads.

    Check out the review at:

    http://www.cwire.org/2006/05/04/text-link-ads-the-best-alternative-to-googles-adsense/

  33. Cobpo.com says:

    Thanks a lot buddy..Learnt a lot, from this…Thanks a tonne!

  34. Good article indeed. But I don’t think Text-Links-Ads are a good alternative if you didn’t have a PR6+ .

    Regards

  35. Don Yuan says:

    Thnx a lot buddy! This will be a great help indeed on my first blog about Alisha Klass!!

  36. aspoerm says:

    thanx a lot, coz i have new spirit now to make my blog better

  37. Scott says:

    I have been using AdSense and it has been working fairly well for me. I need to work on my ad positioning, but I am worried about being too intrusive…

    Scott
    http://www.thelegalscoop.com

  38. karenlim says:

    Wow I have learnt much from this post

    I have dedicated my blog to the sharing of Law of Attraction and visualization techniques.

    I have not put up and adsense yet.
    Mainly giving Free Attraction Report to people who are interested in Law of Attraction:-
    http://www.secretofunlimitedprosperity.com/rights/freereport.php

    Maybe later, I should consider some of the programs you mention
    thanks!

  39. Brian says:

    Thanks a lot! That helps me out a lot too. I just started my own blog and was completely lost! But with the help of websites such as yours and others I’ve been learning a lot and hopefully will get a huge following just like you someday.

    I know the readers on this site are great too and if anyone can give me any help, I’d greatly appreciate it!

    (I’m a newb with all this!)

    Here’s my site! http://seamles.blogspot.com/

    Let me know if I can help you out anyway.

  40. The Delusion: A Million Generous People Might Each Give Me A Dollar, If I Asked Them Nicely.

  41. Thanks Darren,

    An amazing insight…. I know it was written some time ago but i tend to think that there will be quite a few bloggers making a living from it. Perhaps not millions/year but time wise shouldn’t be hard to make $30,000/year. There are so many great tools these days…. what concerns me tho is the use of duplicate content and what exactly Google will get on. I’m forever pushing the limits of this line in the sand…..

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  1. Blogging for Dollars
    Will blogging produce millionaires? Can blogging financially provide people with a full time earning capacity? Will we see more and more professional bloggers? Can and should blogs earn money? This blog tip article on blogging for dollars has been move…