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How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners

Posted By Darren Rowse 8th of February 2007 ProBlogger Site News 150

Top-Income-StreamsUpdate – I have updated the list of my top income earners from blogging.

It’s been a fair while since I talked specifically about my blogging earnings. I decided a year or so ago that I wasn’t going to put specific dollar figures to my income any more in public – however as I get a lot of questions from readers asking for updates I thought I’d share where my blogging income has been coming from lately.

All I will say in terms of dollar figures is that I am still well and truly earning over six figures per year from the following income streams.

The following is a ranking of my top 9 income streams for the fourth Quarter of 2006. It is a summary of the income from my own personal blogs – ie income from b5media (where I am an employee as well as a shareholder) is not included – either is income from Six Figure Blogging (which continues to sell at a reasonable rate) or any speaking or consulting work that I do (very little these days anyway).

I’ve also included a little information on how I use each of these income streams and which products that they offer work best for me which I hope is helpful for others looking to monetize their blogs or websites. Note – Some of the following links are affiliate links.

1. Chitika

Chitika
While they don’t work on every blog (for example I don’t use them here at ProBlogger) and there is a traffic minimum to be accepted by them Chitika continue to be my highest earner. They offer a variety of ad units and income streams – the top three for me are eMiniMalls, Related Product Units and Shoplincs. They continue to work best on product related sites. Place RPU units at the end of posts (they give a good option for people to click on when they finish reading and experiment with linking directly to products in your shoplinc from product reviews (of the same products) on your blogs. I’ve written plenty of Chitika Optimization tips here and here.

2. AdSense

Adsense
The most popular form of advertising on blogs is AdSense (according to a few studies that I’ve seen) and for me it’s a reliable earner that brings in a significant level of income (just under what Chitika pulls in each month). While I use referrals and their search product on some of my sites I find that normal ad units are producing the best income for me – particularly rectangle (250 x 300 pixels) ones placed close to content with a blended design. For tips on optimizing AdSense on your blog check out this 8 part series.

3. Text Link Ads

Tla
Perhaps the biggest mover for me over the last 12 months in terms of my earnings has come from TLA. While they have a ceiling in what they earn per site they are another good solid earner for me – particularly now that they’ve added feedvertising (RSS ads) which out performs any other type of RSS ad that I’ve tried. I’m hearing from many bloggers that TLA is their biggest earner now. It works best on sites that have been around for a while – you don’t need big traffic to be accepted – but having a page rank and some search engine presence helps.

4. Amazon Associates

Amazon-Logo-1The forth Quarter of each year tends to be a good one for me when it comes to commissions from Amazon. The last quarter is a time that people are in a buying mood in the lead up to Christmas – smart placement (deep linking inside posts) can bring great conversions. The key is picking relevant products to promote. Read more tips on affiliate programs for blogs for a few other tips on optimizing Amazon.

5. Private Ad Deals

I don’t do a lot of private ad deals (it’s something I should focus upon more but there are only so many hours in the day) but when they come in they can be significant (if you have decent traffic). I’ve just signed two deals on my digital photography blog with Apple and Adobe for the next couple of months so I suspect this one will leap up next quarter.

6. Miscellaneous Affiliate Programs

My blogs have a variety of smaller affiliate programs running from them. I try to find quality products that relate to my topics that I can genuinely recommend – often via reviews. Some of the better converting products that I’ve recommended this last quarter included – Digital Photography Secrets (a camera technique series), Pro Photo Secrets (a photoshop product) and SEO Book (Aaron’s legendary resource).

7. ProBlogger Job Boards

Jobboardheader
Not spectacular earnings but growing. I see this more as a service to readers than an income stream at this point – however it does pay for itself and bring in a few hundred dollars each month.

8.Performancing’s Partners Network

The now defunct ad network did bring in a few hundred dollars last quarter. I was sad to see this close as it offered an interesting alternative.

9. BlogAds

Blog-Ads
I don’t use them much these days but they do bring in a little each month. I noticed BlogAds decrease in performance for me around the time they went to the new version. I’m not sure if it’s my problem or theirs but apart from one blog I rarely see any sales these days.

How Much Do I Spend?

A question that I’m regularly asked when I do such posts is ‘how much do you spend’ to earn what you earn?

The answer is ‘very little’.

I do experiment occasionally with using AdWords to promote my blogs – but don’t have the time or patience to get into it heavily (the biggest month I’ve had with AdWords ever is $100 – just over $3 a day). Other than that I don’t do any paid promotional activities and my costs are really just hosting related and the normal ISP and office costs.

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.
Comments
  1. I had been always wondering about this point.Glad you shared your sources.I knew some of them but this much i am little surprised.

    But guess for new bloggers very few of them will fit.Traffic is a major concern.I hope to use some of the impression based in coming months.

    Hope you are having fun out there

  2. Interesting post Darren, always love the feeling of peeking in one’s kitchen and this shows what is doing well on the stove.

    I am still amazed that Chitika is your # 1, but with the product blogs you own I can image that it really works well together.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. Hopefully we have all figured out that there is no such thing as a quick buck, but with knowledge, patience and a good site, we can actually make money from blogging.

  4. Darren, I thought you had some sort of blogging packet you sold … “Six Figure Bloggin” I think it’s called. Where would that fall on this list? (sorry if you mentioned it and I just missed it)

  5. I’m slowly picking up pieces of what you’ve shared and experiment it myself over the last one year. But this year I’m hoping to do much better than last year. But building traffic is one of my major weaknesses. This year I’m trying to put into practise what I’ve learned from problogger.

    Thanks for sharing Darren.

  6. That’s a nice way to show where the money comes from. Thanks for the post.

  7. That was a great report! I couldn’t imagine how you manage all that.
    Tough part is to keep the income stable.

  8. Thanks for the info. I understand if you don’t want to give dollar amounts, but I wish you would have included rough percentages.

  9. Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to make some changes now :)

  10. I think that most bloggers don’t really make use of private ad deals and affiliate programs, which is a shame because I think they have so much potential.

    Good to see that Chitika is working for you. It’s definitely an ad program that I need to explore in detail..

  11. Thanks, Darren. You know what would be cool, is if you gave your opinion/the facts on what sort of traffic levels each program might require as a minimum. For instance, Adsense can monetize any traffic level (above 0) while I believe TLA has various requirements, and may not even be worth using below some traffic threshold.

  12. How do you know when to cut someone loose and when to keep someone. You have tons of readers and hence can see change very quickly. I barely get 5 clicks a week on adsense. How do I know it just isn’t traffic. Should I be changing it up all the time? Should I be more patient. How do I know when one just isn’t working for me.

  13. Here’s a question about personal ads deals: how does one provide an interface providing munbers (clicks, impressions) to the advertisers?

  14. The Reviewer:

    If your traffic is so low, then optimising your income sources is not the most productive use of your time. You could spend hours fiddling around with Adsense colours, placement, sizes, etc, and even if you found the absolute best combination you might only take your income from $1/week to $3/week.

    Spend the time increasing your traffic instead. If you could increase your traffic tenfold (not that hard on a site with little traffic to begin with), you’d take your Adsense income from $1/week to $10/week. Once you’re at that level, optimising the ads would be a productive use of your time.

  15. Actually what amazed me, Darren, was that Adsense wasn’t your main income source! And six figures from blogging! Thats amazing lol! I myself had wondered just how much you made doing this job! Truly inspiring, great article, gave me some good tips :)

  16. I’m most curious about how long a trial period you give any one campaign before changing it or giving it the boot. From what I’ve found, a solid 3-4 weeks is needed to really gauge how well any given campaign will do, including color changes in adsense. Anything that is more often then that is really hard to tell if the increase / decrease is due to a change the regular readers are noticing or just a fluke.

  17. Darren:

    When you say that Chitika is your best performer, is that because you do a lot of referrals since your blog is about promoting blogs?

    I have a product oriented blog (gadgets, games, gizmos, etc…) with about 1500 visitors/day right now, and I do about 60% of my revenues from AdSense, 35% from Chitika (both eMiniMalls and RPUs) and about 5% from various other things like Amazon and Vizu polls.

    I’m just curious if might be able to do better with Chitika than I already do. My placements are contextual, and based on the headline of the product that I’m talking about in my blog.

  18. Thanks for sharing all this Darren. The amazing part about the six figure income isn’t the fact that it comes from blogging–it’s simply incredible that any small biz gets to that income level within a few years of its inception. That’s HUGE.

    As for the blogging aspect of it–for all the work you do and all the time you put into keeping everything going, it makes perfect sense that you’re making some good dough. Your expenses are very little, but I wonder how many hours a week you spend working on all this stuff. (I will faint if you tell me you work a 20 hour week!)

    You work really hard. It’s divine justice that your effort should result in a hefty paycheck :-).

  19. Thats good information Darren. Do you think you can post percentage figures you earn of each of these income streams?

  20. […] In How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners Darren gives us a fairly good look at how he earns an income through blogging. […]

  21. […] surprinzator sau nu… pentru problogger, cei mai multi bani nu vin de la google… […]

  22. […] Original post by Darren Rowse and software by Elliott Back Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  23. […] February 8, 2007 at 8:15 am · Filed under Uncategorized How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners I decided a year or so ago that I wasn ’t going to put specific dollar figures to my income any more in public – however as I get a lot of questions from readers asking for updates I thought I’d share where my blogging income has been coming from lately.[news][entertainment] […]

  24. […] How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners (tags: Blog) […]

  25. I tried to use chitika own one of my sites and it said something about don’t reach traffic requirements or something like that…or am I just mistaking i used it on http://www.randombull.net

  26. Darren,

    I was wondering if it would be at all possible for you to expand upon the private ad deals. Did you actively seek these companies out or did they come to you? Are you getting paid a set fee for allowing them to advertise on your site or are you getting some sort of pay out for click-thru or sales conversions?

    Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Brian

  27. A bit surprised to see that you are not using Feedburner – they seem to have a decent pool of advertisers and also offer pretty good CPM rates.

  28. […] How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners ProBlogger Feb 2007 post on top revenue streams for the blog (tags: seo) […]

  29. Peter Cooper says: 02/09/2007 at 2:32 am

    What intrigues me is that you seem to have a good relationship with Google (I think one of your posts from a LONG time ago said you had contacts there), and yet you are also doing really well with Text Link Ads.

    Google doesn’t seem to be too pleased about text link ads in general as they form unnatural patterns in linking, and on Matt Cutts’ blog he talks about using rel=”nofollow” with such links if you still want to sell them. No-one seems to do this though.

    It’s a shame there’s no true ‘official’ word on this, since a lot of people are making money from both Google and TLA, yet Google seems rather at odds with Pagerank-driven text link advertising (as TLA tends to be – higher PageRank gets better money even if the traffic is poor).

  30. […] Darren Rowse has a great post titled How I Make Money From Blogs – My Top Earners. In the post Darren lays out where his blogging income comes from (say that three times real fast). His revenue streams include Chitika, Google AdSense and Text Link Ads. Read the whole thing. […]

  31. It’s a good post. I only sell affiliate programs through my blog. I just started link sales to one of my popular blog, and it’s a good income generator.

    I will explore this new opportunity now.

  32. […] 9) ProBlogger – How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners […]

  33. Interesting post, thanks a million.

    I pop around here every now and then, but I don’t really know you or what you do so I have a couple of questions – which I realise you may not wish to answer (or possibly may not have the answers)… but in case you will/do:

    I’m a bit unclear on the six figure sum – how much (percentage speaking) comes from all the programs listed above? All of it?

    It would also be really interesting is to know how many hours a week you put into the blogging and related activities to make this sum from the programs listed…

    Many thanks for the post anyway!
    Best,
    Frank

  34. frankp – the above areas total ‘above six figures’. In addition there are a few other areas including my b5media wage and sales from sixfigureblogging.com

    how many hours a week – hmmm. It varies a lot – these days I’m more than full time on blogging although I spend less time actually blogging and more time working with and managing other bloggers with b5. I only actively blog here and at Digital Photography School these days.

  35. We use Google Adsense and then sell some DVDs we make on our site. We don’t make much from the site, and are trying to learn how we can use some other programs other than Google Adsense. I was always under the impression that Google doesn’t like people using other programs in conjunction with theirs???

    We are really going into this blog stuff with some blind faith as a result of finding this blog quite some time ago. If we ever end up making real money from it, a lot of credit has to go to Darren for the inspiration. I didn’t realize how much could be made till I came here.

  36. Hi Darren

    Have you tried my shoplincs module that automatically creates hyperlinks?

    http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/2006/12/19/1208/

    It could give your Shoplink earnings a significant boost.

    Are you able to share percentage splits for each of your streams?

    Everton

  37. out of interest Darren, why don’t you have a subscribe to comments option?

    Or, if you do why isn’t it visible as I can’t find it?

    It stops readers coming back to read new comments or responses to their own comments e.g. I might not know if you reply to this comment as I won’t get an alert, and there’s only so many times I’m prepared to check (if I remember) to see if you do respond.

  38. Thanks Darren!
    That makes the info a lot more impressive!
    Many thanks for taking the time to answer.
    Cheers,
    Frank

  39. […] * ProBlogger breaks down his top 9 earning programs. Always good to see what the pros are using. Number 6 is my number 1. I’ll have to start testing Chitika as I’m not using it and I keep hearing it pays well. […]

  40. Did you read about NBC’s NYC affiliate holding a blog summit last month, and see the survey they gave to 130 of New York’s most read blogs (http://www.wnbc.com/news/10814198/detail.html)? They asked how much their blog made. Their answers:

    17% – over $1,000/month
    14% – $200-500/month
    4% – $100/month
    14% – less that $100/month
    51% – NOTHING

    Yet Henry Copeland of BlogAds was quoted in the Wall St. Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB117072031237598933-lMyQjAxMDE3NzAwNjcwMjYwWj.html) that “most self-employed bloggers take in between $2,000 and $10,000 a month from ad sales.”

    I guess that only applies to bloggers like you Darren (and more power to you!), not us little guys and gals. At least it gives me something in aspire to, and another reason to read you and get tips.

  41. A very important thing though if you use ads on your websites, is that your website is well designed and that there is good conent on it as well. Or your visitors might not even stay long enough to look at your ads.

  42. Hang on.. sorry – I’m still tryin to piece this together!

    Am I understanding correctly or are you saying you are earning 6 figures from advertising on your personal blogs – which is a of total two blogs???

    “It is a summary of the income from my own personal blogs – ie income from b5media (where I am an employee as well as a shareholder) is not included – either is income from Six Figure Blogging (which continues to sell at a reasonable rate) or any speaking or consulting work that I do (very little these days anyway).”

    ” I only actively blog here and at Digital Photography School these days.”

    Or is there residual earnings from blogs you no longer contribute to as well… or am I completely misunderstanding what you are saying?

    Many thanks,
    Frank

  43. […] How I Make Money from Blogs – My Top Earners […]

  44. frankp – no, sorry but I wasn’t clear.

    I only blog on two of my blogs – but I have others writing for me on other blogs. For example my digital photography blog is maintained by another blogger for 99% of posts (I do the occasional one).

    I also have some inactive blogs that there is some continued earnings coming in from.

    so in summary – the above ‘six figure earnings’ comes from the above income streams on blogs that:

    – I actively write on
    – I employ others to write on
    – that I used to write on but that are currently inactive

    In addition to this I do earn some income from my wage from b5media and the sales of six figure blogging.

    hope that’s clearer :-)

  45. I’m only a baby (symbolically speaking, actually I’m a toddler) and just started blogging and understand I have a long way to go. So, I was wondering if you or anyone else commenting here have additional suggestions on advertising programs that are good to start with before we have any traffic coming in? I have signed up for adsense.

  46. im surprise that you number one spot is not adsense! it would be great to see some hot tips on chitika from you!

  47. […] P.S. Jau parašius ir ruošiantis spausdint šį straipsnį, garsiausias “pro bloggeris” Darren Rowse atnaujino informaciją apie savo uždarbio iš blogų šaltinius. Pasirodo, kad jo bloguose Chitika jau kuris laikas uždirba daugiau nei AdSense. Tikriausiai nieko nuostabaus, pažiūrėjus kaip Chitika skydeliai įkomponuoti viename iš žinomų jo blogų Beje, Darenas iš blogų uždirba virš 100 000 USD per metus. Taigi, jei Chitika sudaro bet 1/3 jo pajamų, tai būtų kokie 36 000 USD per metus arba 2000 USD per mėnesį. […]

  48. […] What are all the ways to make money off your blog? When Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net recently published his top income streams, it got me thinking. […]

  49. […] Keep in mind that I have numerous blogs and these figures are not just for ProBlogger (in fact this blog is one of my smaller earners). I also use a variety of income streams including AdSense, Chitika, Text Link Ads and Amazon Associates (to name just four of the main ones – update: here are my top earning income streams from my blogging.). Here are a few of the more recent posts I’ve done on the topic: […]

  50. My bullshit detector just blew a fuse. Another lame attempt to make a few dollars by making AdSense newbies click on a bunch of referral links in hopes of learning something which may actually help them to make money rather than make a few more cents for the lame ass publisher. It’s time for a good, no-bullshit and free AdSense tutorial, which I am going to write here. Ok, here it goes:

    1. Get a domain and some decent hosting, the domain name should be able to reflect the topic of your site as much as possible.

    2. Add shit loads of good content, don’t just copy and paste randomly or just write something just for the sake of it, make sure it’s good, quality stuff which people will actually find useful, so that it helps them and it helps you as-well. Remember, if you continously post bullshit, useless stuff just in the hopes of getting some random hits and make a few dollars of them, just like this guy, your profitabilview ity may not last very long, as your site will be one of those “come and then press back button” sites. Eg. of quality sites are: http://www.engadget.com (Basically all sites of Weblogs, Inc.), http://www.neowin.net — Remember, you don’t need tons of writers etc, all you need is some basic writing skills, and know everything you can about your site’s topic.

    3. Don’t expect to make any decent income as of yet, just forget everything about the money right now. Keep adding more quality content, just be concerned about making your site content-rich, and that is no bullshit content again, and once you have enough content, submit it to search engines, directories and all kinds of shit you can find. Don’t do link exchanges, banner exchanges and crap like that, it sucks. Keep writing and eventually you’ll be able to find some visitors, not some random visitors, but real visitors, who may keep coming back to read your quality content.

    Just do what I said, make a good site, put google ads on that sucker, and keep adding content, and you’ll get there. Remember, if you do it for the money, you will never get it. Do it for fun, and helping others out, and you will get the returns very soon, and in proportion.

    You may want to know who am I? Well, I am Maddox. I have a site which has more page views than McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Pepsi combined. All it has is a black background, and white text, with a few no-bullshit images here and there. Why do a million people keep coming back to my site? It’s because of one thing: Content.

    That’s it. Now close this window, as this is a site full of useless bullshit, just like the other thousand sites out there, selling guides and shit like that.

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