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How the Most Highly Visited Blogs Earn Money

update: How to blogs earn money? For more information on this topic check out ProBlogger the Book.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon wading through some of the most highly visited blogs going around at Truth Laid Bear’s Traffic Ranking page which ranks those blogs with Sitemeter statistics. I quite often head over there to keep track of who is doing what. Whilst it doesn’t track all blogs it does give you a hint at what blogs people are reading in terms of topic.

Today I was surfing through the top 30 of these blogs and I started to keep track of how many of them have some sort of income stream (whether it be ads, affiliate programs, donation buttons, merchandise for sale etc). I did the same exercise informally about 12 months ago and found that just over half of the top blogs had income streams. This year I found that things have changed – the Blogosphere is becoming more commercial (or at least the most highly visited blogs are). I’ll outline what each of the top 30 are doing to earn an income below – but let me first share some initial findings:

  • All blogs in the top 30 have an income stream. Only one blog had no advertising or affiliate programs (it did have a donation button though).
  • The most popular Income Stream on these Blogs is BlogAds – 23 of the top 30 have them.
  • The next most popular income streams were donation buttons and Amazon links (mainly to books).
  • Also popular were AdBrite text ads.
  • Only 8 of these blogs use Adsense.

There are plenty of other observations to be made from what I found but I’ll let you chew over them a little and make your own remarks below in comments. Here are the notes I took on each of the top 30 blogs in the list:

One note of explanation – I deleted two of the blogs listed in Truth Laid Bear’s Traffic Ranking page due to them being duplicated in the list. The numbers below are their daily visitors (averaged from their last 7 days traffic).

1) Daily Kos – 443841 visits/day – Runs Blog Ads (15 currently running) ranging in price from $13000 per month for the premium position down to the classified position at $500 per month)

2) Gizmodo – 175706 visits/day – Runs a variety of Ads including an Affiliate program with CNET, a variety of private sponsorships and button ads, text ads using AdBrite ($400 per four week campaign). They also run Adsense ads on individual and category pages. Details on their Advertising Rates.

3) Instapundit.com – 129981 visits/day – Runs BlogAds (8 ads currently showing) – ranging in price from 6000 per month for the Patron Position to Classified $500 per month. They also have a Donation Button and Amazon affiliate links.

4) Gawker – 104460 visits/day – Runs a variety of sponsorship/banner and affiliate ads (CNET again). They also have AdBrite text ads available at a cost of $600 per 4 week campaign. More information on their Ad packaages.

5) Eschaton – 103837 visits/day – Running BlogAds (currently with 8) which range in price from $2500 per month down to $100 for a classified ad. They also include a donate button and see to be running an affiliate program with a book store.

6) Defamer – 91942 visits/day – Similar to the above Gawker blogs with CNET affiliate program, banner ads, text ads with AdBrite ($450 per four week campaign). More on their ad packages.

7) lgf: journey heaven is a funky moose – 82475 visits/day – Blog ads (currently running 10) which range in price from $2750 per month for the premium spot down to $800 for a second tier ad). They are also running Amazon affiliate ads and have options for donations.

8) Power Line – 62304 visits/day – Blog ads (currently running 11) which range in price from $1400 down to $450 per month. They also have an ad for an insurance company (could be CPM or could be affiliate ad). Lastly they have a store which sells merchandise (t-shirts, cups, caps etc).

9) Wonkette – 54963 visits/day – Similar deal here to the other Gawker Blogs with the exception of some BlogAds (currently running 10) ranging in price from $1700 per month down to $650 per month). Their AdBrite text ads are $150 for 4 weeks. They also sell Wonkette T-Shirts. More details on their ad packages.

10) www.AndrewSullivan.com – Daily Dish – 48804 visits/day – BlogAds (3 currently running) range from $3200 down to $250 for 4 weeks. Andrew also runs Adsense ads on a few pages, with a few Amazon affiliate ads and runs a successful ‘Tipping Point’ donations campaign.

11) Michelle Malkin – 45661 visits/day – Also runs BlogAds (six at present) ranging in price from $1900 to $650 per month.

12) The Smirking Chimp – 41947 visits/day – Runs BlogAds (2 at present) at a cost of $425 per month. They also run some amazon affiliate ads and a merchandise store.

13) The Washington Monthly – 41482 visits/day – BlogAds (4 of them today) cost $395 per month. They also have affiliate links for Amazon, Adsense ads and a Donate button. You can of course also subscribe to the print edition.

14) Go Fug Yourself – 38742 visits/day – BlogAds (7 of them) cost $275 per month). They also sell t-shirts.

15) Blog for America – 33746 visits/day – No ads that I can see – but you can make a contribution/donation.

16) HughHewitt.com – 26517 visits/day – Currently 5 BlogAds running – the cost of which is $1000 per month. You can also buy Hugh’s book via an affiliate link on the sidebar where he has a few other books linked to also. There is also a site sponsor banner ad and a tip/donation button.

17) Captain’s Quarters – 20817 visits/day – BlogAds (currently 23) cost between $200 for premium ads to $125 for second tier ads per month. They also have affiliate links (amazon) in their sidebar as well as a donation button.

18) Lifehacker – 19185 visits/day – Similar to other Gawker Blogs with a range of banner ads (some served by double click – impression based I guess). Details of their advertising.

19) Blogcritics.org – 16078 visits/day – This blog focuses heavily upon Amazon affiliate links (they are in every post). They also have 3 BlogAds ads at ranging from $700 to $210 per month. There are also a few other affiliate program ads scattered around their blog.

20) Wizbang – 15379 visits/day – BlogAds (2 at present) ranging in price from $500 to $100 per month. They also have a text link or two on the sidebar through AdBrite ($150 per 4 week campaign) as well as amazon affiliate links to books.

21) washingtonpost.com – White House Briefing – 15125 visits/day – Has a variety of ads including banner ads and text ads run via a number of systems including Overture, doubleclick etc.

22) The Volokh Conspiracy – 14337 visits/day – Runs a DoubleClick campaign at the top of its sidebar as well as a donation button.

23) Kim du Toit – Daily Rant – 14179 visits/day – BlogAds (currently 4) cost $140 per month. They also accept donations via PayPal.

24) PoliPundit.com – 14025 visits/day – BlogAds (currently 8) range from $280 to $140. They also run Adsense ads in their sidebar and some sort of impression based ad or affiliate program on individual pages under posts.

25) MyDD – 13964 visits/day – Blog Ads here cost $500 for premium ads and $100 for classifieds per month – they currently have two running.

26) Drudge Retort: Red Meat for Yellow Dogs – 13667 visits/day – This blog runs a variety of ads including Adsense Ads across the top of their blog and BlogAds (currently 3) which cost $200 per month.

27) Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter – 13388 visits/day – Roger runs BlogAds (currently 3) which cost between $800 and $300 per month. He also has Adsense ads in his sidebar and affiliate links to his books as well as a donate paypal button.

28) Matthew Yglesias – 13353 visits/day – BlogAds here as well (currently 6) ranging in price from $220 to $130.

29) Crooks and Liars 12933 visits/day – BlogAds here (3 at present) cost between $230 and $75 for a month campaign. They also run Adsense Ads in the side bar, accept donations

30) Digital Photography Blog – 12518 visits/day – The most prominant ads here are Adsense ads on all pages. There are also Adsense Adlinks and is a Adsense Search Bar. There are also Amazon affiliate programs, BlogAds (2) at $107 per month, text links from $49 per month and other affiliate programs.

Ok – I spent too much time on this today so I’ll stop now. I’ve got a few more observations and reflections to make – but I’ll open it up for some discussion first. What strikes you about these blogs? Looking forward to your comments below in comments.

Update: I’ve written a second piece on a few more of my reflections on this little study here.

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. Ugo Cei says:

    Honestly, I would have thought that most of them used AdSense, since it’s so easy to set up and start using. And also considering that a top blogger like you is using AdSense mostly :).

  2. Scrivs says:

    I should point out that those blogs are in the top 30 blogs that use sitemeter and make their stats public. Don’t want everyone thinking that the only way to be successful is to run a political blog…

  3. Here’s my breakdown in order of revenue from HackingNetflix.com:

    1. Netflix and Blockbuster affiliate programs generate the most money by far. They have to be highly targeted but can pay off if done right.

    2. Google Adsense. More than pays the bills, and I’m getting better at positioning and “coloring” the ads. Can’t wait for RSS since I publish full feeds for free right now.

    3. Blogads, but it’s growing. I have recently upped my rates.

    I highly recommend you experiment all the time to find the right mix for you.

  4. Andy says:

    Wow those are serious visitor stats! :) Thanks for the link that’s really useful info.

  5. Dean says:

    Just out of curiosity, where can one find some of the top paying keywords out there. For free, that is. It be interesting to do some research on some of the top keywords out there and find out what kind of blogs can be created for them.

  6. Darren says:

    Dean I wrote a post with some tips on this here.

  7. Thanks for the informative posts.

    BTW: Have you noticed one of the links
    69) Test blog 5953 visits/day (19187) – wptests.bloghouse.net
    isn’t even a functioning website. It is just a palce to test WordPress!
    How does it get that number of hits?

  8. Darren says:

    Hi Angsuman – I suspect the reason is that the sitemeter is also on other pages and is counting more than just that page.

  9. Piers Fawkes says:

    I think what would be as interesting is how other sites who don’t reach the volume to make sufficient funds from advertising create revenue….

  10. John Bradbury says:

    Okay I’m fairly new to the idea of blogging for cash but I do have a fair bit of experience in the Internet Marketing arena and something strikes me as very odd. The top ranked sites have an average visitor stay of no more than 10 seconds…. sounds like junk traffic to me?

  11. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has a great article on how the most popular blogs make money.

    Darren went through the top 30 blogs a few months back and started analyzing which ones had income streams….

    If you are looking to make money with a blog, you don’t want to miss this article. You will find out how he determined what the most visited (most popular) blogs are, how many visits they have per day, and how they monetize their web traffic….

  12. kzap says:

    blogs are not sticky and thats a fact. people read them every day but that only takes them a minute at most on the average.

  13. Vishnu says:

    Well, to me it was surprising to know that a very small percentage of top 30 blogs use adsense.

  14. hank spank says:

    how to you spell greed?
    just look at these eyes, man…
    zoom it up and you see to little $ signs
    nothing against pro blogging, but do we
    need more of this disturbingly american
    death of a saleman type prosa, when
    just a few blocks away you are neglecting
    your fellow citicens?
    do you guys not have any pride?

  15. I think the major source of income comes from google adsense, however i am surprised to see the traffic stats of blogs, are they real?With that kind of traffic blogs can make in millions.

  16. The way blogs earn money for its owners varies from advertising to pay per click. The way most blog masters make their money is by thinking small. They go for the paid per click , such as adsense or 7search. I have being using 7search for 4 years and get paid upto 3 dollars a click sometimes. So I know that 10 thousand visitors to your blog a day with adsense or 7search can make you $1000 a day. Just my 2 cents. Nick

  17. jack says:

    Well if that blog make a million dollar :D i just wanna 10% :D in my dream … thats wonder me that blog can make such money …

  18. It’s interesting to see that BlogAds are more popular than Adsense in the top 30.

    residual income training

  19. jack says:

    :( i just start blog :D i hope its not too late for making money :D

  20. Ron Wilson says:

    Darren,
    Are there other sites out there that rank blog site visits?

    Thanks.

  21. Jason says:

    Groovy. Thanks.

    Now I know that I have to start a news blog to make some real money.

    Cheers,

    JP

  22. wow! Cool site! What an eye opener. Now I’m going to have to hang out here and read up on what you and others are saying. Thanks this is very helpful. Sounds like blogging for money could be an uphill thing.

  23. I am quite surprised at how many of the most visited blogs deal in some way with politics or current events. Plus, I would have also thought that Adsense would have been on every blog. Maybe Adsense is only for us amatures? :)

  24. I’d love to read this same brand of commentary geared towards the top blogs of 2007.

    Can we get a new analysis Darren?

    Thanks!

  25. waker says:

    thx lot for the information
    and
    Obeus is another chioce
    # Make money publishing ads on your web-site.
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    # Tolerant policy: we accept sites of different size and popularity.
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    http://obeus.com/?ref=2537

  26. Fantastic post! We’ve actually been trying to find a way to monetize http://www.bloginterviewer.com and have found that google text link ads work best. True, they require two clicks, but for some reason people like them.

    We’re also using PayPerPost referrals as a stream of revenue, but it requires more than just a sign up. The referral has to get approved and post in order to receive a payout.

    We’re thinking about putting blogads up in the future, but for now are sticking with our current model. If anyone has any suggestions please leave a comment on the site.

    Mike
    http://www.BlogInterviewer.com

  27. Dave says:

    The author missed my blog. I don’t sell anything on it.

  28. hydra888 says:

    Wow! I wish i could have that number of visits a day.

    Ronald
    Life, Health and Power

  29. maiko says:

    sign-up, configure your widgets with our easy publishing system, paste the code into your blog or Web page, or use our integration with popular blog platforms such as TypePad, Blogger and WordPress. When you sign-up with WidgetBucks, you’ll automatically receive a $25 bonus into your account.You earn money each time someone clicks on a WidgetBucks ad widget on your site, also called pay-per-click, or PPC.

    you earn depends largely on your site’s traffic and content – $3-6 CPM. All revenue earned will be sent within 45 days after the end of each month, as long as you’ve earned a minimum of $50.

    Link : http://www.linkbucks.com/link/ff11fd2c/6986.

  30. Earn Money says:

    I have just started writing a new blog at http://www.tarangill.com/blog and was just wondering what is the best way to earn money through it, or what is the best ad network to join. The information on this page has helped me a lot. Thanks for posting.

    Regards

  31. Matched says:

    If you want to earn money by advertising on your website then you should take a look at Matched.co.uk. You enter the details of your website and any pages you wish to have advertisements on. They then match you with advertisers and pay you £3 per advert that you display on your website for a month. You can enter up to 5 websites and 5 pages on each site so potentially you could make £75 a month for doing vitually nothing and you could earn even more through their affiliate scheme with an extra £5 per referral.

  32. haus says:

    :D Direct Marketing

  33. Dr Altaf says:

    Really we need to appreciate your efforts and opennes to put the experiences here. It’s really helpful , we will explore under your guidance.
    Best regards,
    Altaf

  34. I have been contributing regularly as a blogger with articles on varied subjects particularly concerning Information Technology, Industry, Business, finance, Entrepeneur, How to start an Internet Business at Home.

    I wish I too knew the secrets of these top bloggers who are generating large chunks of traffic and making the most in terms of revenue earned.
    I wonder how do they really get all those information to write about thats unique and interesting. Whereas I have great difficulty to find articles or ideas that are fresh and unique.

    I wish I too make that amount of money as the top thirty does so that I too can contribute more.

    Visit me at http://roylinfo.blogspot.com

  35. John Rlenn says:

    Just wanted to say that I also wonder where these bloggers get these extensive amounts of information to blog on day after day, if anyone has any insight towards this, i’d be extremely interested.

  36. shannon says:

    The higher amount of traffic to a site and the less expensive is the best way. There are many ways to be seen on the world wide web. You can advertise everywhere but if no one is looking then the money is wasted.

    shannon
    http://www.eighthorses.com/

  37. Yes, highly visited blogs earn mostly in adsense like Google, they have more chances that Google ads on their sites are often clicked and will be credited into their accounts. That’s why we keep on doing everything just to get high traffic. But there are also other ways in earning money aside from adsense. :-)

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